Love felonies: Poetry on queer marriage in the Midwest

This is a post by Karen Heminger. Karen lives in Bloomington, IN as a poet, author, and artist. In this post, she gives an inside look at her new book, Life, It’s Killing Me. She takes us on a journey through a couple’s trouble with queer marriage in the midwest.

The people living in Indiana struggled to maintain marriage equality after the June 25th decision that would let same sex couples marry (U.S. District judge Richard L. Young). As the decision was quickly appealed by conservative legislation, I began to write.

While Indiana has not technically banned marriage applications between same sex couples, the current legal frameworks hold the same effect.

Indiana marriage applications have one line for males and one for females. That means, when a same sex couple applies for a marriage license, one of the individuals must list their name under the opposite gender.

Even if the state won’t recognize it, our state views the use of the opposing gender’s line as identity fraud and lying to a government official. These are class D felonies in Indiana.

Even though there was a brief window available for same-sex couples to file for marriage license, some county officials refused to issue licenses anyways due to their religious beliefs. While I do not have issue with religious people, I do have issues with people who use their religion to deny others equal rights.

Last week I had the pleasure of running into newlyweds Tracy & Timothy Brown-Salsman outside of our local gay bar, The Backdoor.

Tracy & Tim have been together for 26 years and, as many couples do, they wanted to combine their names after marriage. Combining names is important for filing certain health forms and maintaining rights after the death of a spouse. This is something that is very important for Tim & Tracy as they both have been diagnosed with AIDS.

While nursing each other through the ailments that often accompany immune diseases, they began to worry more and more about what would happen to their assets after death. Although this is not strictly a monetary issue, money does play a crucial role as AIDS medications and hospital costs are steep. They wanted to make sure the other would be taken care of in the event of death.

Unfortunately, Tim and Tracy’s families are not very supportive — they have threatened that upon death, the land/house/and assets they’ve acquired together over the last three decades would be taken by the family and not given to the living spouse.

As one can imagine, this has caused the couple a great deal of unnecessary stress, but they continue to use the time they have together to advocate for marriage equality and AIDS research.

There are many couples who have similar concerns as Tim & Tracy but not that many who would be willing to use their honeymoon for activism. It is this passion for equality that has inspired me to write “Love Felony”.


Love Felony

by Karen Heminger

in Life, It’s Killing Me


Is it Hypocrisy




The line is so crooked now

That I can’t see

Could you tell me?


If ignorance is bliss

But knowledge is key

Should I strive to be happy

Or try to be free?

Could you tell me?


Because I may not know much

But I’ve lost enough

to know a good thing when I see it

And though this may not fit

Society’s expectations

I will not constrict myself

To your statute of limitations

Or the implications

That my love is any less than yours


In fact,

It grows greater still

For without any legal obligation

We remain a congregation

Of two souls

Regardless of holes or poles

Does our love not share the same goals

As you & yours?


You can buy Karen’s new book Life, It’s Killing Me on Amazon, which includes Love Felony and other poems.


1 Comment

  1. Timothy and Tracy Brown-Salsman on September 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    We were so delighted when we came across Karen Heminger’s writings and poetry She absolutely flattered us with her Love Felony! Karen is a lovely person and her work with the homeless warms our collective heart

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