Today legislators in Indiana are scheduled to vote on a bill to put a marriage ban into the state constitution. It is likely the last time that a state will undertake such an effort.
In a sign that the public’s appetite for institutionalized discrimination is waning, this bill is facing uncertainty, despite Republicans holding majorities in both houses.
The problem is that for the amendment to be brought about, identical language must be approved by two consecutive legislatures and then approved by popular vote and, in their arrogance, the 2010 legislature went into full ‘ban everything’ mode.
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 recognized.
Now the ‘no marriage, no civil unions, no other-state recognition, no employment benefits, no nothing, never’ approach seems heavy-handed and cruel. And many moderates and business leaders are warning that such an approach makes the state appear oppressive and hostile, neither of which are good for business.
Left with a start over or risk it choice, Legislative leaders are trying to have it both ways. Starting over would mean that the likelihood of passage of anything would be much lower in four years. And risking it runs the chance of defeat, which would almost certainly be seen as a sign that the nation has tired of anti-gay amendments.
So instead they are trying to “explain” the second half of the amendment language. (News Sentinel)
“I think it’s very advisable to have an expression of legislative intent that accompanies HJR 3 (the proposed amendment),” Bosma said last week. “There are valid questions raised about the second sentence of the amendment.
“It seemed to make a lot of sense to address the issues, but still make it quite clear that civil unions are not allowed — which is the substantially similar or identical language to marriage — and define it as a man and a woman, but remove these concerns people validly are raising in most cases.”
The opposition has pointed out specific situations in which this bill would hurt lives of people in Indiana, such as partners of employees at the state colleges. Which, based on the history of other states going for the “no, no, no, no” approach is true.
The legislative leaders are hoping that by “explaining”, they can confuse the issue enough that the voters will somehow overlook the problems that the bill would bring and the image of their state as the final Hate State. But the business community is not on board and moderates are not letting the leaders get by with such a flimsy card game.
Today is the first test in whether the social conservatives have sufficient grasp on the legislature so as to push the bill through. (abc57)
The amendment vote falls in the hands of the Indiana House Judiciary Committee, a panel of just 13 lawmakers.
All 4 Democrats on the committee are expected to vote it down, but they’ll still need at least 3 of the Republicans to join them in order to defeat the amendment.
If the party is smart, they will kill this bill in committee, promise to bring it back again, and then lose it in the shuffle. The odds are that they will instead taint the image of their party and their state and plop this steaming pile of animus and self-righteousness into the laps of the voters.
You can watch the hearing here.
So far opponents have included gay Republicans, business groups and chambers of commerce. Actually, some pretty hard-hitters from our side. All either hard-core Republican activists or high-level businesses integral to the economy.
Perhaps one of the most unusual arguments from a very conservative attorney is that because the second sentence is so ambiguous, then the courts will make all future decision and not the legislature.
Legislator just ate up ADF’s representative by asking for an example of what the second sentence would prohibit. She kept trying to say it would not effect benefits, but couldn’t say what it would do. And the silly girl said “I can say with certainty” only to have it pointed out to her that her assertions disagree with history and have no weight.
The Judiciary Committee has adjourned and the vote has been delayed.