IU law professor, Indy Pride leader react to Pope Francis’ stance on same-sex civil unions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pope Francis became the first pontiff to endorse same-sex civil unions in comments for a documentary that premiered Wednesday.

It’s a shift from the Vatican’s long-time stance on the topic. While some applaud the pope, some LGBTQ advocates said his comments fall short.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the U.S. for five years, so the idea of civil unions being a major move is a hurdle the LGBTQ community has already jumped over. However, there is some concern with renewed conversations around a possible reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

The pope, in an interview for a documentary called “Francesco,” said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.”

Indy Pride executive director Chris Handberg said, “That’s one of the reasons we fought so hard for marriage equality so that we could be seen as equals.”

Handberg said the pope’s statement endorsing just a civil union may be great news for countries that haven’t taken that step. But here in the U.S., that’s not enough. He’d rather see local laws changed to add an another layer of protection.

“I think a lot of people in our community are really scared that they could overturn the decision for marriage quality. We even saw Justice Thomas Alito signal that they want to see it overturned,” Handberg said.

Supreme Court rulings are rarely overturned, according Jennifer Drobac, the Samuel R. Rosen Professor of Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. She doesn’t anticipate the court will reverse its 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriages across the nation.

Drobac said, “Let’s say hypothetically that Indiana decided not to permit same-sex marriage. That would mean everyone who got married in California and moved to Indiana, their marriage would evaporate at the border.”

The law professor said that in the years same-sex marriages have been legal, many couples have had children. Any reversal could have dire impacts on children. In some cases, instead of having two legally recognized parents, some children would have just one, the parent who shared DNA, or none.

“I don’t think those conservatives are going to want the chaos that will result from another reversal,” Drobac said.