Sunday, 13 April 2014

In the Spotlight: Katie Blair

Today kicks off Midwest Girls Society Wedding Week and what better way to kick it of then to introduce our new monthly contributor, Christina Wiksell. Christina has extensive experience working within the community and fighting for people's rights. This month she interviews Katie Blair, Director of Advocacy For American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. Here at Midwest Girls Society, we believe that every human being has the right to be happy and marry. We support women like Katie fighting for our friends who aren't treated equally by the law. 
In the Spotlight: Katie Blair, Director of Advocacy for American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana

Katie Blair is the Director of Advocacy at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana. Ms. Blair has an extensive work history, including such roles as: Outreach Coordinator for the University of Missouri Women’s Center, Director of Activism for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, and the Executive Director for the Indiana Democratic Party - 51 Percent Club. Her dedication to alleviate those repressed by societal ills keep her moving onward in her latest fight, for marriage equality in the state of Indiana.


In comparison to our east and west coast neighbors, here in the Midwest we have seen little to no progress for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, and limited recognition has been granted to out-of-state same-sex marriages in Ohio, Missouri, and Colorado. According to Ms. Blair, “The fight for marriage equality is a core civil liberties issue; it’s not about ‘special rights’, but simply the right of everyone in the U.S. to be included in the promises and guarantees of the constitution.”


In one representative Midwestern case, The ACLU of Indiana and the national ACLU filed a lawsuit for Midori Fujii and Kris Brittain along with 14 other plaintiffs in federal court. This lawsuit calls for the recognition of same-sex marriages conducted outside the state, and the legalization of same-sex marriage within the state. Ms. Fujji and Ms. Brittain married legally in the state of California, but their marriage was not recognized in the state of Indiana. After a two-year struggle with ovarian cancer, Ms. Brittain passed away. The funeral home would not allow Ms. Fujii the dignity of making arrangements for her wife. To add insult to injury, Ms. Fujii was required to pay more than $300,000 in Indiana inheritance tax on all property received. The lawsuit, Midori Fujii vs. Indiana Governor, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on March 14, 2014.


The Freedom Indiana coalition is supported by the national ACLU and the ACLU of Indiana. Ms. Blair was brought on by way of a grant, to act as the liaison between the ACLU headquarters and this campaign to boost their efforts. “Freedom Indiana is making headway for bipartisan coalition of businesses, faith leaders, civil rights, and community organizations,” says Ms. Blair. With the help of these organizers from around the state, together they united in defeating the House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR-3). HJR-3 states: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognised.”

Ms. Blair goes on to say, “This anti-freedom amendment duplicates existing law and permanently bans all protections for same-sex couples and their families, removing existing protections for unmarried Indiana Hoosiers.” The outcome resulted in the senate voting 32-17 in favor of HJR-3. “Of course we would have preferred an out-and-out win, but believe it or not, we’re happy with the result on the vote. In order for the amendment to go to the ballot, it had to be passed with the exact same wording by two separately elected general assemblies. By amending the bill, the senate kept the amendment off the ballot. It could not come back until 2016, a presidential election year. Republicans, the force behind HJR- 3, do not want this on the ballot in 2016 because liberals and young people will come to the ballots in droves.”

For over ten years Ms. Blair has devoted her life and been at the forefront of social justice change. Her passion for women’s issues, LGBT rights, and the like, make her a dynamic role model for feminists everywhere. Two of her best friends, Mike and Mickey, have been in a long-term committed relationship. They would like to tie-the-knot and be married as some couples in love often do. As a woman-of-action she does not want to wait around for that to happen, rather, she is determined to make that happen. “I believe that everyone should be treated equally. End of story.”

Thanks to Katie Blair for her contribution. You may contact Ms. Blair at, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana, 1031 East Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202. P: 573-289-4993

How Can YOU Make A Difference?

How can YOU make a difference and become a person-of-action just like Ms. Blair? Consider using resources from major organizations, like these links below, information, legal research, fliers, strategy suggestions, and mentoring. Create networks or liaisons with existing activist organizations. Avoid reinventing the wheel. There is strength in numbers! Don't see it as an enormous task of huge proportions. Instead, break it down into small pieces, and aim to get other like-minded people on board. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

Donate to help the ACLU of Indiana fight for marriage equality on their website: www.aclu.org/secure/support-aclu-indiana
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  – LGBT Rights: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights

Freedom to Marry: www.freedomtomarry.org/

Human Rights Campaign: www.hrc.org/

Indiana Equality Action: www.indianaequalityaction.org/

PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends, and Allies United with LGBT People): www.community.pflag.org/


From Women-in-Action

Christina L. Wiksell


2 comments:

  1. Katie is a real inspiration to those who are trying to make a difference. Thank you, Christina, for showing how the rest of us can do it (even if we don't work full-time for the ACLU!)

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  2. She was a real inspiration to me too! I'm glad I had the opportunity to interview her.

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