Thursday, March 08, 2007

Same-Sex Marriage in Indiana

Indiana is a red state. It is the heartland of America -- fly-over country. It is about as wholesome a place as you can find. Musicians and moviemakers frequently make reference to Indiana whenever they want to evoke images of small town America. Indiana is the last place you would expect gay marriage to have any popular support. And, in fact, it has none. However, the will of the public is rarely on the political agenda of the Left, and that is not what the gay marriage movement is about. Gay marriage is just another attempt to use the power of government to impose the belief system of a fringe group upon the public. In this case, unelected activist judges have redefined marriage to include homosexual unions. Furthermore, there is the concern that a federal judge could declare that a legal homosexual marriage in one State must be recognized in other States, even in those States that have outlawed homosexual marriage. It is against this backdrop that the Federal Same Sex Marriage Resolution and an Indiana State Constitutional Amendment are being debated.

Indiana State legislators passed a law banning gay marriage in 1997. Although this law was attacked in the courts by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union it has withstood the challenges. Nonetheless, Indiana lawmakers recognized that without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage the court challenges would not end. Enter SJR-7, the proposed State constitutional Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA). It is currently working its way through the Indiana legislature, and is expected to come before Indiana voters in 2008 as a ballot referendum. This is the democratic process that would allow the will of the public to prevail. State Senator Brandt Hershman was quoted as saying "The decision before us today is simply, do you trust the citizens of the state of Indiana to decide the future of one of the most fundamental building blocks of our society?" Naturally, the Left is opposed to putting this before the voters. Public opinion polls in Indiana have shown that a large majority of Hoosiers are opposed to gay marriage. The Left would perfer to continue to fight this in the courts where they have a chance of finding a sympathetic judge that will impose their will upon the people. It has been noted that "Virtually every major newspaper in the state has now editorialized against SJR-7." Surprising? I think not. Across the country, a DOMA has never been defeated in an open popular vote.

Now, even if SJR-7 were to prevail, it would not be the final word on the issue. Federal law trumps State law, and a Federal judge can overturn a State constitutional amendment. Indeed, in 2005 a federal judge in Nebraska overturned a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. So the only way to put this issue to rest would be a US Constitutional Amendment. This has been attempted twice, once in 2004 and most recently in 2006. On both occasions Congress failed to pass the proposed amendement. It should be noted that Evan Bayh voted in support of gay marriage on both occasions.

Speaking of Evan Bayh, where does he stand on the Indiana DOMA? Despite voting in support of gay marriage twice, he has refused to take any position on it. He was specifically questioned about his position on it by a group of liberal Indiana bloggers during his short-lived Presidential campaign, and he said he had not yet read the amendment so he could not take a position on it. This is laughable. Constitutional amendments, unlike other pieces of legislation, are usually brief statements composed of just a few sentances. DOMAs have become standardized, the wording is virtually identical from State to State. Here is the proposed Indiana Marriage Amendment:

Section 38.
(a) Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

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