Indiana Lawmaker's Gay Son Speaks Out on Dad's Anti-Equality Vote

'I'm terribly disappointed in his decision and beliefs,' Chris Smith says of his father's vote against marriage equality in Indiana.

BY Trudy Ring

January 27 2014 2:37 PM ET

Chris Smith

The gay son of an Indiana state legislator is speaking out against his father’s support for an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage and other forms of relationship recognition for gay couples, such as civil unions.

“I’m not here to badmouth my dad,” Chris Smith, son of Rep. Milo Smith, wrote on Indiana Equality’s Facebook page Saturday. “I’m terribly disappointed in his decision and beliefs, but he’s not going to change them now if he hasn’t after all these years of knowing I am gay.”

Milo Smith chairs the Indiana House Elections Committee, which last week voted 9-3 to advance the amendment to the full House, where debate is expected to begin today. If both the House and Senate pass the measure, with the same wording as when it was passed in a previous legislative session, the amendment will go before voters in November. Indiana already has a statute forbidding same-sex marriage, but constitutional provisions are more difficult to challenge in court.

Both father and son told Indiana media outlets they have a close and loving relationship, although with little attention to the fact that Chris, who lives with his partner in California, is gay.

Chris Smith told Indianapolis alternative paper NUVO that his relationship with his father was distant immediately after his parents divorced some years ago, but “we’ve really gotten close over the past few years.”

“I know he loves me. That’s important,” Chris added in a Sunday interview with The Indianapolis Star. “But I’m just upset that he is voting the way he is.” He said he hasn’t talked to his father since posting his message on Facebook, but he doesn’t expect to change his dad’s mind; the post was primarily to show support for LGBT Indiana residents. He told the Star his father’s opposition to marriage equality is “for completely religious reasons. He’s become far more religious now than when I was growing up.”

Chris, now 43, has been out to his father since he was 20, but the subject of Chris’s orientation generally doesn’t come up. He said his father did, however, recently suggest a family reunion and encouraged Chris to bring his partner along to any such gathering.

“My dad is a really nice guy. I’ve never heard him talk bad about anybody,” Chris told the Star. “Periodically, one of us will give the other a call out of the blue. I’ve had decent conversations that always end with him saying, ‘I love you.’ I always say I love him.”

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