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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Indiana Law - Update on: Some thoughts on HJR 3: The time to speak out is now

On Jan. 15th the ILB posted this entry. Some quotes:

I was a law student during the civil rights movement, a young attorney during the women's rights movement, and now in my 70s feel privileged to be witnessing a revolution of gender equality.

But while barriers to same sex marriage are coming down across the nation, some of us in Indiana are determined to put in place new fortifications, ones that could take years to remove (except through the federal courts), and ones that may assure years of legal battles at the state level.

I wrote that in my opposition to HJR 3, "I stand with the majority of Indiana's citizens," and continued:
Still, as of now, some of our biggest Indiana business and legal leadership associations have failed to step forward.

The headline to this story by Daniel Suddeath in the New Albany News & Tribune Monday caught my eye. The headline:"State, Southern Indiana chambers of commerce mum on same-sex marriage ban."

What, I wondered, was the position of the Indiana State Bar Association, and the position of local groups, such as the Indianapolis Bar Association, on HJR 3? The ISBA and IndyBar speak out on many matters and represent many of us. What are their positions with respect to amending our Indiana Constitution's Bill of Rights to include a ban against same sex marriage, and to prohibit "a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

I contacted the Indianapolis Bar Association at mid-day yesterday and they responded promptly. Jeff Abrams, IndyBar President: "The Association is surveying its members to provide insight into the most desirous role or position we might take. We anticipate knowing more next week."

The most recent word I have received from the ISBA is: "The Indiana State Bar Association has not taken a position on HJR-3."

But the time to speak out, and to act, is now.

On January 27th, the Indianapolis Bar Association announced its position against HJR 3, and published the results of a survey of its members:
2,196 members responded to the survey, which reflects a 47.4% response rate from the members receiving the survey; this is the highest survey response rate on record for the association. The results of the survey revealed that 73.1% of the respondents were in favor of publicly opposing HJR-3, 20.1% favored taking no position on the measure, 5.4% were in favor of supporting HJR-3, and 1.5% had no opinion.
Today the Indiana State Bar Association has announced its position, which continues to be not to take a position. Here are quotes from the statement of the ISBA president:
Over the last year, two separate committees of the ISBA considered the question of whether the ISBA should take a position on the same sex marriage amendment but neither presented a resolution to the House of Delegates for consideration at our Annual Meeting last October. As a result, the House did not address the issue and the ISBA does not have a position on it.

Recognizing that this issue would remain in the forefront of the public debate after the Annual Meeting and the fluid nature of the political process, the Board of Governors appointed a special committee chaired by Professor Joel Schumm at the IU-McKinney School of Law to monitor the activities concerning HJR-3 during this legislative session and to make recommendations to the Board as to whether the ISBA should play a role in the debate over HJR-3 and if so, the appropriate way to do so.

The Committee, on behalf of the ISBA, is following the process closely but has not made any recommendations yet. Last night’s vote in the House amending HJR-3 by removing the second sentence, for example, reshaped the issues significantly. The Committee continues to assess whether the ISBA should play a role in the debate over HJR-3 and, if so, the appropriate way to do so in a manner that is duly considered and approved in accordance with our bylaws.

Among our 12,700 lawyer members throughout the state, we have thoughtful individuals who hold a wide range of political, religious, legal, economic, and public policy beliefs on the issues raised by the proposed constitutional amendment.

The ILB may update this post...

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 30, 2014 05:09 PM
Posted to Indiana Law