The Indiana Senate has passed HJR 6 which prohibits recognition of a legal status similar to marriage for unmarried individuals and prohibits gay couples from getting married. No surprise. It passed 40 – 10. Many Senators were undoubtedly voting their consciences, but I suspect many have also done the political calculus and concluded that they might get penalized for voting against the amendment more than voting for it. I see that Sen. Richard Young, former Senate Democratic leader, voted in favor of the amendment. Along with House Minority leader Bauer, that’s a disappointment.
The bill really does no practical, immediate good (and I have argued that it does harm). The state has a so-called defense of marriage law on the books. The courts have upheld it. That won’t change as long as there is popular resistance to gay marriage. But, such resistance seems to be fading. Maybe the trend will continue, maybe it won’t. But if it does, this amendment will effectively tie the hands of future generations. And, maybe that’s the point. But, in this, I think it’s wrong to substitute impose our current sensibilities on them.
Matt Tully has a column that calls this an opportunity for the people to repudiate an unabashed, mean-spirited display of discrimination. Abdul says “let the people decide,” suggesting that this is a generational issue — his otherwise civil rights minded parents are just boggled by the idea of gays getting married; his teenage nieces and nephews don’t see why anyone would care to stop it. A referendum is apparently how this thing will have to play out. The Constitutional amendment process requires the same language to pass again in 2013 or 2014 and then go on the ballot sometime after that.
It’s a crazy system where there’s resistance to a referendum on a simple issue of general interest like Daylight Saving Time, but we get to vote on whether to constitutionally mandate inequality for our gay friends and neighbors. I’m something like 6th generation Hoosier, and I love my state. But, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence that my fellow citizens will make what I consider to be the humane decision on this one.