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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - HJR 6: Saying "let the people decide" is a false choice

"Lawmakers not ready to fold on same-sex marriage ban: It should be up to voters, they say," is the heading to this Dave Bangert column in the Lafayette Journal Courier. Some quotes:

[N]o matter how many universities (IU, Wabash and DePauw so far), how many city councils (the Indianapolis City-County Council was the latest, on Monday) and how many businesses line up against House Joint Resolution 6, the next move really belongs to 150 people in the Indiana House and Senate.

And to hear Sen. Brandt Hershman, a Buck Creek Republican who has been instrumental in guiding the same-sex marriage question to a public referendum, tell it, the more people line up to protest, the more reason there is to keep going. * * *

“I will happily abide by whatever decision the general public makes. And I think the increased discussion that has occurred on this is a very healthy thing. I will say, my personal views on the matter aren’t nearly as important to me as allowing the public to speak their piece.”

Hershman, who represents much of the Lafayette area, carried a similar measure in 2008. It died when Democrats in the Indiana House refused to let it out of committee. * * *

Hershman’s view — let the people decide — has become a landing zone for lawmakers as attitudes shift under their feet since they voted overwhelmingly in favor of the constitutional referendum in 2011.

ILB: Here is the problem with the Hershman position of putting HJR 6 on the ballot next November and "letting the people decide." All that the people will be deciding is whether in the future our Indiana constitution's bill of rights will include a prohibition against same-sex marriage and any "legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals." But the statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage, IC 31-11-1-1, will remain on the Indiana statute books.

So what is the General Assembly really looking at?

So with HJR 6 the voters are deciding only whether to take the "belt and suspenders" approach to same-sex marriage in Indiana, they are not deciding on whether same-sex marriage should be permitted in Indiana.

In a June 26th post headed "HJR 6: Will the voters really "have their say" on marriage equality? Or is this a Hobson's choice?," I wrote:

... the General Assembly should tie together repeal of the existing statute banning same-sex marriage with placing the marriage equality constitutional amendment (HJR 6) before the voters in 2014.

In other words, the General Assembly should devise a way to make a repeal of IC 31-11-1-1, the statute that currently bans same sex marriage, contingent upon the voters defeating the proposed constitutional amendment.

That way, the voters would be be given a meaningful decision. Otherwise, as I wrote earlier, even if they do defeat HJR 6, it really means nothing because the statute prohibiting sex marriages, IC 31-11-1-1, remains on the books.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 13, 2013 08:43 AM
Posted to Indiana Government