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Monday, December 10, 2012

Ind. Law - "Constitutional ban on gay marriage bad for state, its economy"

That is the headline to this editorial from Sunday's Evansville Courier & Press:

Statutory law of Indiana already bans same sex marriage in the Hoosier state. So why then do some Hoosier lawmakers want to pile on by amending the state constitution to ban same sex marriage? The Indiana Legislature, which goes into session in January, has plenty of legitimate issues — among them education, economic development, taxes — to deal with in 2013.

Of course, seeking to make gay and lesbian citizens feel even more unwelcome in Indiana than they already do is an economic development issue. Make that an anti-economic development issue, in that it discourages talented gay and lesbian citizens from seeking jobs in a state where they may not feel welcome. And it sends a message to companies headed by gay and lesbian individuals that their businesses are not welcome.

Fortunately, any number of Indiana businesses and industries have recognized the value in hiring skilled employees, and offer same sex couples the same benefits as traditional couples. And yet, the legislature of Indiana seeks to slam one more door in their faces. In the 21st century, this is ridiculous.

Look, no one expects that the Indiana Legislature will attempt any time in the near future to lift the statutory ban on same sex marriage. Yet, those who support the constitutional ban must fear that a majority of lawmakers in the distant future may try to lift the ban. They seek to take that option away from lawmakers not yet born. Yes, future lawmakers could try the four-year process of amending the constitution, but why should that be necessary?

As it stands now, last year the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate voted to pass a ban on gay marriages and on civil unions into the Indiana Constitution. If it passes both houses of the legislature again in the 2013 session, the proposed amendment would be eligible for a statewide referendum in 2014.

For now, the first question is whether the proposal will come up for a vote in the legislature this year, or whether Republican leaders will wait until next year to bring it up. In fact, such a delay may be necessary unless supporters can answer the question of whether the constitutional ban would affect more than 600 existing laws. According to Courier & Press staff writer Eric Bradner, a group of Indiana University law students conducted a study which said the amendment would impact laws ranging from blocking same-sex couples from receiving tax and pension benefits to allowing same sex couples to skirt conflict of interest laws.

One option might be to remove a ban on granting same sex couples similar legal status. Of course, changing the language of the measure as approved in 2011 would require starting the process over.

And that might be the best that opponents of the amendment could hope for in 2013.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 10, 2012 10:57 AM
Posted to Indiana Law