Rep. Culver wants to fiddle with the State Constitution

Maureen Hayden, writing for CHNI, has an article quoting Rep. Wes Culver as supporting another try at getting a gay marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution.

Conservative state lawmakers say they expect to re-introduce legislation in the next session that would clear the way for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Indiana already has a law that bans gay marriage, but supporters of a constitutional amendment say it would offer protection against court action.

“I’m all for it,” said state Rep. Wes Culver (R-Goshen), co-author of a bill that was blocked by House Democrat leaders when they were in control.

The Indiana Supreme Court already upheld the law in 2005 (under, I believe, specious reasoning having to do with reproduction but not explaining the right of, say, post-menopausal women to marry.) The real urgency these folks are probably facing is that public support for giving gays the same rights as everybody else seems to be steadily on the rise.

It’s always a danger to project your own experience onto the world at large, but I believe polling data supports my doing so in this case. I’ve gone from homophobic to indifferent to supportive of gay rights over the last 20 years. I think the world is headed in that direction; and I wouldn’t be surprised if guys like Rep. Culver see that trend as well.

Either way, I’m not a fan of mucking about with the state Constitution absent some great need. The inclusion of the tax cap legislation, I suppose, has diminished the document as a statement of guiding principles and pushed it down the road to more of a supplemental version of the Indiana Code. Still, we should do what we can to keep soon-to-be obsolete crap out of there. We should avoid sending the signal (any more so than we already do) that we’re an intellectual backwater, hostile to progress, by deliberately injecting discriminatory language into our founding document. Otherwise, we’ll likely reaffirm the notion that we’re just the big middle finger of the South sticking up into the Midwest.


  1. says

    This is the reason why I have a hard time telling teenagers that “it gets better.” Frankly, that’s not my experience. It gets better in some ways but harder in others, and I still feel despair at times. At a time when we’re planning ahead for our retirement and realizing the bleak financial outlook that Sheila Kennedy outlined very well in her recent post “Grow Old Along With Me” these sorts of legal setbacks seem like the same old repeated abuse.

  2. HoosierOne says

    Doug – you’ve hit the nail on the head. They really do know that they’re missing the golden window to include this into a supposedly unchanging document. I also agree with your thought that including the tax caps makes this seem more like a policy document than guiding principles.

    One of the most galling things about this inclusion will be that it comes at the end of the Indiana Bill of Rights. Not since the original passage – 1851 – with the racist anti-black Article 13 – which had to be struck down by the US Supreme Court – has this document, which should be enlightnening been so besmirched. I’m disappointed but not surprised.

  3. Dave says

    No government should include anything in it’s constitution that limits the rights of a minority group. Period.

    Not should the government include anything that prescribes to a particular religious view of the world. Marriage in general should be removed from the law, to be substituted with a more general social contract between two adults.

  4. Todd Ianuzzi says

    Hoosier One,

    I have not spend much time with the Indiana Conititution, but it was drafted at the time there were a lot of new and interesting social and political concepts circulating. And its Bill of Rights is a somewhat “radical” document. You are correct, to place this Banner of Bigotry in the Indiana Constitution is a stain, IMO.

  5. Paul says

    Agreed with your comments Doug. (Although I don’t buy this one provision making us a part of the South). I also don’t like the amendment because it reeks of the same opportunism that the Dems did with health care, i.e. “Hey, let’s do something we always wanted to do which happens to be terrible timing right now, but we just won an election and now have the votes.”

  6. says

    It’s definitely not just this one bill that makes Indiana more like the South. Indiana’s more southern culture has to do, initially, with the state’s settlement patterns. (The “middle finger” metaphor is one I got from Morton Marcus). Anyway, Indiana was settled at first from the South; folks coming up from the Ohio River. It wasn’t until somewhat later that folks started coming down from the Great Lakes. The middle only got filled in later.

    I’m reasonably sure that Ohio’s settlement was dominated by easterners and from the north, such that the more Southern sensibilities of, say, Cincinnati get trumped by Cleveland and, to a lesser extent, Columbus. Illinois is dominated by Chicago and down state plays second fiddle. Wisconsin and Michigan don’t really have Southern influences.

    In a variety of ways, Indiana seems to be more in harmony with the states of the Old Confederacy than the rest of the Midwest. Which is too bad, since, in my estimation, the Old Confederacy is wrong on policy matters more often than not.

    As for the “Democrats do it too” line of thinking, that might be true, but I don’t think health care is a good example. Passing laws when you have the votes is one thing; changeable as soon as the votes go the other way. (I don’t, incidentally, think the Republicans have the mandate to change many of the individual components of the health care legislation; when people find out what’s specifically included, they seem to prefer those things to the status quo ante.) Passing Constitutional provisions does much more to lock in future generations.

  7. Todd Ianuzzi says


    When I lived in Minnesota and New Mexico I often described Indiana as the most northerly southern state. I often said that the Mason-Dixon line ran just north of Muncie.

  8. says

    How many amendments are there to the Indiana Constitution? Not many. It is not easy to get an amendment passed. That should temper your anti-tax-cap views. This thing was JUICED in a way that very few laws are.

    As for the defense of marriage amendment, it has a high hill to climb to become an amendment. I don’t see it having anywhere near the popular support that the tax caps had (the tax caps were winning by 75/ 25 in the hardest core Democrat precincts in Gary, places where Coats did not get ONE VOTE out of hundreds cast. Like I said, that’s some JUICE!)

  9. Paul says

    Doug: When you state that the South is wrong on policy matters more often than not, do you include financial policies? Ironically, it appears that the economy of the South is better-off than the economy of the non-South. I also note that most people, including Morton, agree that Indiana is currently better off than Illinois, Michigan and Ohio (the non-South states Indiana borders).

    I agree Buzzcut. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about this type of amendment.

  10. says

    Unless I’m missing something, except for Virginia, the Confederate states are all below average in terms of GDP per capita. My guess is that Virginia’s tech sector near D.C. pulls that state above the line in terms of its citizens’ productivity. Indiana ranks 40th.

  11. says

    At the risk of finding myself on the end of a 15-minute hate, I’m going to suggest that at least part of the motivation might be to avoid the imposition of same-sex marriage by a new mix of Indiana Supreme Court justices.

    The proponents are not waiting to get their wish by democratic processes, but are actively litigating to win judicially-imposed SSM with whatever material comes to hand. E.g., Does your state have generous domestic partner benefits? Then nothing but the rankest bigotry could be behind not calling domestic partnership “marriage.”

    I’d embed the following if I knew how:


  12. says

    “The confederate states” are also places that are quite warm in the summer. They didn’t develop into modern economies until air conditioning became widely available. Since then, they have had economic growth rates much higher than the midwest and northeast.

    So you can bitch about whatever “policies” that you don’t agree with, but the fact is that the Sunbelt’s combination of low taxes (generally no income tax) and right-to-work are kicking the crap out of the rest of the US. In fact, Texas in particular has been doing very well. Indiana needs to persue policies more like Texas, which would include dumping the income tax altogether.

  13. says

    Okay, somebody needs to drive a truck through that: the average mean summer temperature, and the average high summer temperature, are roughly 6º higher in Montogomery, AL, Columbus, GA, or Oxford, MS, than in Indianapolis (source). Not much to base an empire on. The major climate distinction between the regions comes in winter, when it’s twenty degrees warmer, on average in the South, and doesn’t even approach the freezing mark. So everybody’s hot in summer, but one group still has liquid water and functioning hydraulics without requiring any additional energy expenditures three months out of the year. So there’s that, if the competition is to see who can come up with oversimplified explanations of complex situations designed to enshrine a particular twenty-year segment of labor statistics.

    That’s before we add that it was the US government, funded by the US taxpayer, which provided the electricity to run the union-built air conditioners, back when we didn’t deal with 40% of the population believing that all government expenditure should be eliminated, except what it personally benefits from.

    Second, rate of growth? It’s easier to go from 1 to 2 than from 25 to 50, which doesn’t even begin to ask what cost we’re willing to accept for all those minimum wage jobs the peons are so lucky to get. And that’s without pointing out that the time frame in question represents the US switching from a manufacturing economy to one based on lending money and importing Chinese slave goods.

    Finally, right to work laws? I dunno when you last looked, but there aren’t any union jobs left, unless you’re talking about us importing Phoenix’ police jobs or Texas’ schools.

  14. Stephen Clark says

    Sorry, Tipsy Teetotaler, but you aren’t worth 15 minutes of hate.

    When you rant about “judicially-imposed” freedom of speech, I’ll listen to your rant about “judicially-imposed” equality. Funny how people like you assume that a general constitutional guarantee of equal rights cannot possibly include gay people, but you doubtless have some rationalization that allows you to pretend that you aren’t just wallowing in simple homophobia. Tell us, mere opponent of judicial activism motivated by nothing having anything to do with gay people, what have you personally done to lobby for the legalization of same-sex marriage through the democratic process?

  15. Stephen Clark says

    And, Tipsy Teetotaler, while you’re busy pretending homophobia is no part of your motivation, would you care to enumerate for us all the rights, benefits, and obligations that the Indiana legislature has extended to same-sex domestic partners as well as how a same-sex couple currently goes about registering in Indiana to supposedly receive every right of marriage except the name?

    While you’re at it, go ahead and tell us why voters cannot amend the state constitution if the Indiana Supreme Court ever holds that the state constitution prohibits discrimination against gay couples. Will their fingers be broken and unable to cast votes at that speculative future date?

    What a wind-back of pathetic rationalization you are!

  16. Paul says


    Weather was just an idea regarding the reason, not the point of Buzzcut’s post. The point was that southern economies have been smaller than northern economies. Personally, I would point to the fact that the South has historically been more agricultural as the reason, rather than the weather.

    Regardless, I disagree with the assertion that growing from 1 to 2 is easier than growing from 25 to 50 (the example probably should have been going from 40 to 44 rather than 50 to 55, but whatever). Growth is not easy at any level.

    It probably should also be noted that the population of the low-tax South is growing. Sure, some of that might be due to weather, but I can tell you from personal experience that a portion of that growth is also due to the lower taxation levels.

  17. says

    I can accept Doghouse’s alternative explanations, and can come up with some other reasons, too.

    Whatever the reason, Doug’s “Confederate States” were economically undeveloped until recently, at which point they have caught up and are accelerating their economic growth.

    I can also accept Doghouse’s explanation that it is easier to grow from one to two than from 25 to 50. But that doesn’t explain the acceleration of growth.

    In case anyone doubt’s this, look at how well Texas has weathered the Obama years. Now, why would Texas, of all places, do so well under Obama?

    No income tax, right to work. It’s a nice combination, economically speaking.

  18. Todd Ianuzzi says

    Paul and Buzzcut,

    I think both reasons that you offer for the only recent growth in the south are accurate. There was an active political movement in the south in the 1920s and 1930s to keep the South rural and agrarian. They were called the Southern Agrarians. The writer Robert Penn Warren was among them. I read some excepts from their collection of essays in a class in Rural Sociology in college.

    I did a lot of business traveling to the south in the 1990s. I have come to believe that Sherman did not burn enough towns in Georgia and that Lee Atwater succintly summed up the Southern worldview in his infamous 1980 quote:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

    ”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.”’

    Dog whistle politics. For dogs.

  19. says

    I tend to think the South’s relatively small economy flows directly from its reliance on slave labor prior to the Civil War. That had a negative impact on, among other things, public education and development of industry. Not to mention their disastrous decision to rebel in defense of their peculiar institution. I doubt the subsequent 100 years of Jim Crow laws did anything to help matters either.

  20. says

    Anybody who thinks that “tax cuts hurt blacks” is an idiot.

    And anyone who thinks that forced busing is a “Confederate States” issue is an idiot too. There was rioting IN BOSTON over forced busing. What, are Southies secret devotees of the Confederacy?

  21. Paul says

    Doug: I think we have come full circle on this segment. I have no issue with placing blame for the South’s lack of historic growth on their poor social policies (slavery, Jim Crow, etc.) However, their fiscal policies seem strong to me. Now that the social policies are less pronounced (thanks primarily to a pro-civil rights Supreme Court of the 1960’s), the South’s strong fiscal policy has shined, resulting in a growth rate which now exceeds the “North’s”.

    Todd: You appear to be somewhat of a conspiracy theorist. It is just as hard to believe that the low-tax movement is rooted in racism as it is that states like Indiana use a sales tax because they prefer a regressive tax and want to punish the poor.

  22. Todd Ianuzzi says


    You have shown your character as someone that favors as hominem attacsk over rational and reasoned response. It was not my quote. It was the racist Republican Lee Atwater. One of yours., Kiss and make up with him.

    I never said that the low tax movement was “racist.” They are reasoned policy decisions that favor the party in power’s constituenciy over the other party’s consituency. That is why I donate money to the Democrats and others donate money to their party.

    Politics is about who gets what, when and where.

  23. Paul says

    Doug, Paul,

    Regarding the economic performance of the southern states, particularly the cotton belt after the civil war, I’d add that its focus on cotton as the source of most of the difficulty. The decision to go to war led European cloth manufacturers to begin to develop alternative sources of cotton (Brazil, Egypt). This in turn produced a precipitous drop in the price of cotton over the last quarter of the 19th century. It has only been during the past year that the nominal price of cotton has reached the same level it reached in the 1860’s. While the upper south did not produce cotton it too had depended on it for its relative prosperity prior to the war as the upper south had exported labor (i.e. slaves) to the deep south. Cotton and the plantation (slave) economy fed on each other.

    The south’s dependence on cotton has an echo in Indiana’s and Michigan’s focus on automobiles after World War II, or Elkhart County’s focus on RV’s up to 2008. Part of this echo comes in the form of a belief that we need to “attract” outsiders to the state to “bring high paying jobs” rather than our starting new businesses to diversify our economy. Think about that the next time Gov. Daniels talks about what he has done for the state.

  24. Doug says

    I’m not sure what Gov. Daniels has done or not done with respect to starting new businesses domestically. I know that he got a black eye when someone investigated the Economic Development Commission’s job creation claims which often turned out to be illusory. I also know there was a big push early on (and, maybe currently, but I don’t know) to expand Indiana’s confined feeding operations.

    But, along those lines — and I’m not sure who gets the credit or what the government’s role might be — I’m happy to have the Purdue Research Park in my back yard.

  25. Paul says

    Crud. There appears to be another “Paul” posting.

    Todd: Politicians are elected to represent ALL of the voters of the subdivision that elected them, not just the people (i.e. the constituency) that put them in to office. As such, it is their duty to do what is best for the subdivision.

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