The significance of this, I would say, is that it diminishes the potential of framing the issue as a religious versus non-religious issue or as the forces of morality versus the forces of immorality. In the past, it seems like the political narrative would suggest that “values voters” oppose anything that looked like cultural normalization of gay people. This kind of column muddies the water in that respect.
Our various religious traditions teach us to engage in the slow and demanding work of transformation. Day by day, we are called to make ourselves and the world around us a little bit better: a more loving, more hopeful and more authentic place, where all of God’s children have a chance to flourish.
As Greater Lafayette area clergy, we believe HJR-6 — the proposed amendment regarding marriage — is a fearful stumble backward instead of a faithful step forward in the work of transformation. We are united in our belief that this amendment would dignify discrimination and threaten religious liberty.
It undermines the rights of same-sex couples and their families, both long-time Hoosiers and newly arrived transplants, by jeopardizing employer-provided family benefits, legal contracts and human rights ordinances. All Hoosiers should be entitled to equal rights and protections under our state law.
That is strong work.
I do, however, take some issue with some legal analysis in the column. They point out the distinction between religious marriage and civil marriage and correctly recognize that, when heterosexual couples in Indiana are married by a religious institution, those couples receive the benefits of both religious and civil marriage. Under IC 31-11-11, same sex couples who receive the benefit of religious marriage in their church would not receive the civil benefits of marriage.
However, where the column goes legally astray, in my opinion, is when it suggests that IC 31-11-11-7 might be a restriction on their religious liberties. It provides a criminal penalty for those who “solemnize” a same sex marriage. But, I don’t think this can be fairly read to criminalize the act of sanctioning a marriage religiously. Rather, the context of the law really points to the notion that “solemnization” has to do with certifying the marriage to the State for purposes of the marriage receiving civil recognition. We had some discussion of “solemnization” here back when there were accusations flying that the General Assembly had criminalized the act of even applying for a marriage certificate by same sex couples.
So, while I agree with the column’s stance against HJR 6 as being bad policy; I can’t embrace the contention that its passage is a step down the slippery slope into religious oppression.