Thursday, October 24, 2013
Ind. Gov't. - Likely much too soon to gloat and ruffle feathers?
Erika Smith's column today in the Indianapolis Star is headed "Indiana's gay marriage fight is already settled." A few quotes:
After what happened here and in New Jersey this week, I’m convinced that Indiana has waited so long to come out in a big way against same-sex marriage that it’s no longer popular to do so. More than that, it’s no longer realistic. * * *There indeed has been a great deal of good news lately for supporters of marriage equality. With Connecticut, 14 states now recognize, by law or court decision, marriage equality.
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a pair of important, if legally muddled, rulings on the matter in June, more and more gay and bisexual Hoosiers are deciding to take that final legal leap with the person they love.
They’re setting dates, hiring bands and photographers, sending out fancy wedding invitations, and picking out suits and white gowns. They’re having receptions, celebrating with friends and family, and uploading pictures to Facebook.
Sure, they’re driving to Iowa or New York, or flying to California or Washington to do all of this. Those are some of the states where gay marriage is legal. But they’re coming back to Indiana as legally married couples in the eyes of the federal government. So, for the first time ever, they’re figuring out how to file their federal taxes jointly like any other married couple.
This is happening now. All over Indiana. In cities and in small towns. * * *
So go ahead and try to pass the amendment if you want. Go ahead and push our lawmakers to spend time and tax dollars debating this issue when they could be talking about ways to create jobs and improve education.
Go ahead and try, but it won’t matter. Because you’ve already lost.
But also in the news yesterday:
- Illinois. Illinois faied to pass a law permitting same sex marriage in the last session. It is trying again. "Gay marriage opponents take on Illinois Capitol: Religious groups lobby lawmakers to reject bill granting same-sex couples right to marry" from the Chicago Tribune. A quote:
The dueling rallies unfolded after months of intense outreach by supporters and opponents on the issue. But there's no indication legislators are prepared to act on the issue before the end of the year, as some want to wait to see whether they face difficult re-election efforts before casting a controversial vote.
- Wisconsin. Wisconsin already has a constitutional provision in place similar to that pending in Indiana. Even so, Wisconsin has passed a domestic partnership law. From a long story yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Patrick Marley:
Madison — The Wisconsin Supreme Court raised the prospect Wednesday of striking down part — but not all — of a law that gives same-sex couples some of the rights of those who are married.
In hearing arguments on the case, the seven justices did not hint how they might ultimately rule, but they openly debated the idea of tweaking the law rather than upholding it or striking down the whole law.
The court is expected to issue a decision by next summer on whether the domestic partnership law violates the Wisconsin Constitution's ban on gay marriage and civil unions.
The ruling will determine whether gay couples in Wisconsin can retain hospital visiting rights and other benefits. Currently, 2,300 couples have signed domestic partnership registries. * * *
Wisconsin's high court is not considering the broader issue of whether same-sex couples can marry here. Gay couples in Wisconsin would not get that chance unless they succeeded in a new lawsuit or lawmakers and voters agreed to repeal the 2006 constitutional amendment.
Voters approved that amendment with 60% of the vote. Less than three years later, in 2009, then-Gov. Jim Doyle and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature approved the law allowing gay couples to register with counties so they could take family medical leave to care for each other during serious illnesses, make end-of-life decisions, have hospital visitation rights and receive about 30 other benefits.
The county registries do not confer many other rights associated with marriage, such as those allowing couples to file joint tax returns and adopt children together.
- New Mexico. New Mexico has no constitutional provision or statute prohibiting gay marriage. Now it is, according to this NYT story by Fernanda Santos, on the brink of a decision. From the long story:
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Supreme Court is poised to decide once and for all whether same-sex marriage is legal in this state, addressing an issue that the Legislature has for years failed to resolve and the governor has avoided — but that Democratic county clerks have embraced, under threats of legal action and at considerable political risk.Why is New Mexico different? This Reuters story yesterday by Zelie Pollon explains:
In a packed hearing at the territorial courthouse here on Wednesday, one broadcast live for the first time in the court’s history, lawyers for both sides presented their cases, trying in their arguments to resolve the question: Do gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry in New Mexico? * * *
Fourteen states have made same-sex marriage legal, while 35 states have banned it. On Monday, Hawaii’s Legislature will hold a special session to debate a same-sex marriage bill. There is a bill pending before the House of Representatives in Illinois.
New Mexico remains the only state that does not have a law or constitutional amendment allowing or prohibiting same-sex marriage, and it also does not recognize domestic partnerships. Its statutes governing the rights of married couples are ambiguous: some use gender-specific terms, others do not. And while marriage license applications are gender-neutral, marriage licenses contain the terms “bride” and “groom.”
The state's constitution is vague on the issue, referring to marriage as a union between two people, without explicitly restricting the institution of matrimony to straight couples.
Republican state Senator Bill Sharer argues that New Mexico's constitutional definition of marriage, which he said is unique among the states, is a century-old construct intended primarily to outlaw polygamy, or plural marriage.
Confining marriage exclusively to heterosexuals went without saying, according to Sharer, who has led the charge against same-sex unions in the state.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 24, 2013 01:02 PM
Posted to Indiana Government