Support for Indiana Constitutional Marriage Amendment Waning

I’m not ready to say that the proposed Constitutional provision that would ban same sex marriages and also a “substantially similar legal status” for unmarried individuals will fail to pass, but the drastic reduction in support over recent years is something to behold. Recall that in 2004, House Speaker Brian Bosma considered a gay marriage ban “the most important issue” facing the state.

This year, Speaker Bosma and the leadership team have not listed it in their package of legislative priorities. Gov-elect Mike Pence is sidestepping questions about his support for the Constitutional Amendment. Clearly he’s in favor, but publicly, anyway, he says he’s going to just let the legislature do its thing, and he says he won’t make it a point of emphasis from the governor’s office.

Today, Maureen Hayden, writing for CNHI, has an article entitled Support for gay-marriage ban wavering. Sen. Kenley, one of the more prominent leaders in the Indiana Senate, has said he won’t be supporting the measure.

Noting what he called the “rapidly evolving” shift in public opinion reflected in a poll released Thursday, the influential, conservative Republican said he’ll oppose such a measure if, as expected, it comes up for debate in the 2013 session.

“I don’t think putting it in the Constitution is a good idea,” said Kenley, the powerful Senate appropriations committee chairman who describes himself as a supporter of traditional marriage.

So, he is not ready to vote for legalizing same sex marriage. But, it’s already not legal in Indiana pursuant to IC 31-11-1.

IC 31-11-1-1
Same sex marriages prohibited
Sec. 1. (a) Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female.
(b) A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.

(Upheld by Morrison v. Sadler.

Be that as it may, I view the loss of appetite for engrafting marriage inequality into the Constitution as a positive step so that future generations can make their own choices. And, I especially support any move that prevents that horribly ambiguous second sentence about substantially similar legal statuses making its way into our state Constitution.

Even so, I expect that Rep. Eric Turner and lobbyists Micah Clark and Eric Miller have the drive and the clout to push the amendment through. But, that’s a bet I’d be happy to lose.


  1. Don Sherfick says

    Doug, as you know, I’ve come close to making a total nuisance of myself in trying to make your readers aware of how misleading the constant drumbeat is about having to stop “unelected activist judges” from usurping the authority of the General Assembly concerning marriage or anything “substantially similar”. You and I both know that’s nonsense (1) because of the makeup of the current Indiana Supreme Court, and (2) the way Indiana courts historically accept the flimsiest basis to uphold the constitutionity of a law like the one limiting marriage to just one man and one woman. (See the Morrison case).

    In 2007, in testifying in favor of SJR-7, the current amendment’s predecessor, chief sponsor Senator Brandt Hershman was adamant in insisting that it impacted only the judiciary, leaving the General Assembly totally free to deal with everything but the definition of marriage itself. There is a clear video record of that hearing. And a parade of attorneys, heads of the family values organizations, and other lawmakers, came to the microphone to echo his sentiments that the proper place to discuss and debate these things was in the legislature. Our colleague Roger Bennett correctly testified that SJR-7 was far more moderate than amendments in other states which cut off the legislative nose.

    So what did the proponents of the measure do? They revised the measure to adopt the very language they were critical of in 2007. The Indiana Family institute said in its press release that HJR-6 sponsor (2011) Eric Turner had carefully searched for clearer language than SJR-7. Turner had joined the 2007 chorus in touting preservation of legislative authority. Searched, most likely, no further than the copy of the more draconian language from Wisconsin and Michigan handed to him by you-know-who.

    This isn’t about the judges……it’s all about not wanting folks to remember a little history……and why with attitudes rapidly changing some people want to muzzle future lawmakers in what is best done by legislatures.

  2. Joe says

    What’s fascinating is how the Republicans are going to have to make one constituency mad – either the large businesses begging them to just drop it because it will make recruitment/retention efforts harder, or the religious hard-right they have used in part to ride to their super-majority. They are backed into a corner.

    Even if it gets passed, it’s stricken from the Constituion in less than 30 years with embarrassment. Clearly, those voting for the measure should see this.

  3. Don Sherfick says

    What happened, Doghouse Riley? Speaker Bosma has told the story on himself that his comments putting the ban on same sex marriage at the very top of the priority list made him the butt of his own kids’ ridicule. So he and other legislators have to sense how the younger generation feels, and the sweeping attitude change that is happening. It’s pretty clear those pushing this thing want to ram it through because the train is leaving the station, if indeed it hasn’t already left.

  4. Carlito Brigante says

    You are right, Don, the train has left the station. I find huge support for gay marriage amount people 30 and younger.

    Hence the rush to enshrine the ban in a consitutional amendment.

  5. Don Sherfick says

    Kurt: I totally agree, of course, that marriage inequality is wrong, of course, and can’t stand constitutional muster. But “fundamentally racist in character”? Please elaborate.

    • says

      By calling it “traditional marriage,” they are giving the “traditions” of white European imperial conquerors a privileged place over the traditions of a great number of Native American groups which did in fact practice same-sex marriage (in their cultural context not really equivalent to same-sex marriage between homosexuals in Europide culture, but still biologically same-sex).

      Since they don’t even feel the need to qualify “traditional,” they are essentially asserting that the traditions of non-white Europeans simply don’t count, that those people aren’t relevant/meaningful/important/worthy of being considered equal.


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