By Brian Howey
The Hendricks County Flyer
Tue Jul 09, 2013, 09:21 AM EDT
At our state’s signature annual event — the Indianapolis 500 — where we present ourselves to a worldwide audience, the actor Jim Nabors sings the words that are so dear to many of us: “Back home again, in Indiana …”
The irony here is that Nabors is not only gay, but last January he and his longtime partner, Stan Cadwallader, traveled to Seattle where they tied the knot. Here in Indiana, they would have few legal rights afforded traditionally married couples.
I bring this up in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that knocked down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and punted a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 back to a lower court. In doing so, the high court did essentially two things. It opened up federal rights for domestic partners to do things other married couples do, like filing joint taxes and maintaining property, deathbed and inheritance rights.
It also preserved the right of states to define marriage.
The reaction here is the re-establishment of a battle we will have in 2014, which is to place in the state Constitution the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Indiana already has a law on the books that makes gay marriage illegal.
Gov. Mike Pence and Republican legislative leaders that include House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long are signaling their intent on passing for a second time this Constitutional amendment, which would then go on the November 2014 ballot for voters to decide.
Pence said, “I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all of the people of our state. I look forward to supporting efforts by members of the Indiana General Assembly to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter consideration next year.”
Long said he would instruct his legal staff and experts to “conduct a thorough analysis” of the case. Attorney General Greg Zoeller will as well.
“I fully anticipate that both the Senate and House will be voting on a marriage amendment next session,” Long predicted.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, sees it as branding the state’s constitution with “inequality,” creating a “blemish on Indiana history.”
Several have suggested such a constitutional amendment will put the state at odds with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
In 2011, before Indiana Republicans took super majorities in both chambers, the House backed the gay marriage ban 70-26 with 14 Democrats voting with the majority, and it passed the Senate 40-10, with four Democrats joining the majority.
So the chances of this ending up on the November 2014 ballot are pretty good.
Will voters pass it, as the Governor expects them to do?
In modern politics, few issues have shifted as dramatically as gay marriage. In a May national Pew Research Poll, 51 percent backed same-sex marriage, up from 32 percent in 2003.
In the April Howey Politics Indiana Poll conducted by Republican pollster Christine Matthews, 50 percent supported the constitutional amendment and 46 percent opposed. In the October 2012 Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll, 48 percent backed the amendment and 45 percent were against.
In the April poll, independent voters were split with 44 percent backing the amendment and 42 percent opposed, compared to 37/53 percent for Democrats and 57/37 percent for Republicans. But among younger and older Republicans, cross tabulations show that those 18 to 44 years old favored the amendment 52/43 percent, compared to those 45 and over who favored it 60 to 33 percent.
So the movement on the issue is fluid, even among Hoosier Republicans.
It underscored a conversation I had with conservative State Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, who vowed to vote for the amendment, but added, “We’re probably on the wrong side of history.”
To me, the obvious compromise here would be to accord Hoosier gay couples with domestic partnership rights, but there is great resistance to this.
The other aspect is, our state’s jobless rate is above 8 percent and has been for more than four years. In the fight over Right to Work a couple years ago, the mantra was we have to do whatever possible to attract jobs.
But Indiana’s biggest corporations like Eli Lilly and Cummins view this amendment as an obstacle to hiring the best and brightest.
Beyond the banks of the Wabash and the new mown hay, we face so many profound and festering issues, and we’re about to plunge into one of the most divisive.
— Brian Howey publishes online at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Twitter @hwypol.
When I woke up Saturday morning, I gave a customary online scan of Friday’s sports, mainly for a recap of the Pacers’ home game against Milwaukee.
November 18, 2013
Most people recall where they were upon hearing significant news in their life, whether it was positive or negative. I remember where I was when I heard now-former Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens was going to the Boston Celtics.
November 12, 2013
Having gone to a football school in the heart of basketball country, I was never around soccer in my youth, and thus haven’t been a soccer guy in adulthood.
November 5, 2013
I hate to say it, but I'm afraid we've seen this before.
October 29, 2013
There have been a lot of big games played in Indianapolis, none bigger than the Colts' unforgettable win over New England in the AFC championship seven years ago.
While next Monday's visit from Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos won't eclipse that monumental event, there is no doubt that the city has never and will never experience another night like No. 18's return.
October 17, 2013
There is no denying that Twitter has provided a once-impossible glimpse into the minds of sports figures. It has also infinitely increased the ability of those figures to make absolute fools of themselves.
September 18, 2013
July 20, 2013
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are either over or winding down, but the specters of death and justice have taken a disturbing new tandem twist this year with the issues of U.S. military suicides and sexual assaults within the ranks.
July 17, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
Nelson Mandela,95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died.
December 5, 2013
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