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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Courts - More on yesterday's "Rainbow Rulings"

That phrase is the banner headline used by USA Today. There is plenty of state coverage today on Indiana reactions and impact, much of it reporting the immediate response of our legislative leadership and governor, calling for "push[ing] forward on a state constitutional ban against gay marriage," as Niki Kelly writes in this Fort Wayne Journal Gazette story. Maureen Hayden and Scott Smith's story today in the New Albany News & Tribune is headed "Same-sex rulings leave marriage-ban opponents undeterred." Their story includes:

While Republican Gov. Mike Pence, a social conservative, voiced his support for the marriage-ban amendment Wednesday, some conservative Republicans in the GOP-controlled General Assembly voiced their doubts about it, citing both the rapidly evolving public opinion on same-sex marriage and the court’s rulings.

Sen. Luke Kenley — the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a critic of the proposed marriage-ban amendment — said some of his GOP colleagues who supported the amendment in the past may now balk.

“I don’t know if it will pass or not,” said Kenley of HJR6. “It seems to me these [court] rulings put another barrier in front of passage.”

Republican Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, chair of the House Public Health Committee, has opposed the marriage-ban amendment in the past and said he will again.

He called Wednesday’s court rulings a “major victory for both equal protection and states’ rights” but added: “Just because a state may have the right to do something, however, doesn’t mean it should. The marriage amendment is wrong for Indiana, and I will continue to oppose it.”

State Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, said while the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act opens up the possibility of putting a same-sex marriage ban amendment into the state’s constitution, he’s going to spend part of the summer getting a feel for what his constituents want.

The Lafayette Journal-Courier has an editorial today headed "Statehouse's unnecessary effort to seal gay marriage ban." Some quotes:
So much for the theory that U.S. Supreme Court rulings might throw cold water on an effort to etch a same-sex marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution.

Within hours of a Supreme Court ruling that knocked down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and essentially cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California, leaders at the Indiana Statehouse sent out statements saying they have no intention of backing away now. * * *

Same-sex marriage already is banned by Indiana law. A host of state lawmakers bent on double-sealing the law with a constitutional amendment must believe they are protecting against the day when the Supreme Court’s notion of equal protection comes rattling home for Indiana.

A public referendum seems unnecessary, other than to rally both sides. But, if we’re reading Statehouse intent correctly (and we’re not sure how much more clear Bosma and Long could have been), get ready for the debate and the national attention in 2014, just the same. * * *

A Ball State survey done in 2012 showed 54 percent of Hoosiers polled opposed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in Indiana.

We’ll see where sentiment is in 2014, when the question would go to voters if a referendum is approved a second time by the legislature.

Who would be surprised if the quickly shifting tide on same-sex marriage — both nationally and in Indiana — gives Statehouse leaders an answer they didn’t expect when the constitutional ban effort started a few years ago?

If asked, Hoosiers should send a message that messing with the Constitution that way is a big mistake.

The Indianapolis Star editorial today is headed "Indiana should avoid constitutional fight over same-sex marriage." Some quotes:
Here’s the practical implication for Indiana of the U.S. Supreme Court’s twin rulings on same-sex marriage: Legal recognition of such unions will continue to be banned under state law.

And that’s unlikely to change in the current political climate, despite evidence that a growing percentage of Hoosiers support gay marriage. In fact, the decisions handed down Wednesday — the first that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the second that will allow gay marriages to resume in California — make it even less likely that the federal courts will overturn Indiana’s existing ban. The Supreme Court essentially said that each state will be left to decide its individual course of action on the issue.

Still, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long made clear Wednesday that they expect to revive a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage during next year’s legislative session. That’s unfortunate and unnecessary.

The proposed constitutional amendment, if it passes the General Assembly, would be sent to voters in November 2014. If they insist on following that path, state lawmakers will set up a highly charged, likely painful fight over not only same-sex marriage but, in the message it sends, social inclusion of gays and lesbians in Indiana as well. * * *

The constitutional route also would seek to engrave a permanent ban into the state’s most important legal document, even though cultural attitudes toward gay marriage are quickly changing. What will be the consensus among Hoosiers on this issue in five years or 10? It’s hard to say with certainty, but proponents of a constitutional ban presume to know.

Finally, Indiana can’t afford to put itself at an economic disadvantage to other states when the competition for top talent is more intense than ever. As executives at Eli Lilly and Co., Cummins Inc. and other major employers in the state have noted, they must be able to recruit and retain world-class talent. For Indiana to send the message that certain workers aren’t welcome because of their sexual orientation would be economically self-defeating.

Indiana needs its elected leaders to concentrate on the state’s most pressing priorities. Education and jobs are atop that list. A bruising fight over same-sex marriage should be nowhere in sight.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 27, 2013 10:08 AM
Posted to Courts in general