Don Sherfick

The Indiana "marriage" amendment... how many problems can you find?

Filed By Don Sherfick | October 01, 2006 5:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement

In my first post last week I gave readers an assignment to read the second section of the so called "Indiana Marriage Amendment" several times and try to understand it. Just in case you didn't do your homework here are those 29 words again:

This Consitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups

Remember those picture puzzles like this one that challanged you to see how many items you could find in them? There were all sorts were hidden numbers, letters, names, animals, for you to discover. Well, dear reader, how many ambiguities and ill-defined terms can YOU find in the Amendment's second paragraph? My answer: enough to make you wonder why any rational legislator would seriously consider voting for it without taking the time to be sure of what it means.

For starters, take "unmarried couples or groups". That phrase appeared in the initial Federal Marriage Amendment proposal, and was picked up by the Indiana drafters for the Hoosier version. But in 2004 folks at the national level discovered there was something wrong with that phrase, and changed it to "any union other than the union of a man and a woman". At least it sounds a lot more like "same sex marriage" or "civil unions", which is supposedly what the pushers of the national and Indiana amendments say they are targeting. It's this revised language that Congress voted on (and defeated) recently. But apparently nobody bothered to tell Eric Miller, Micah Clark, State Senator Brent Hershman, and other friends of the Indiana proposal of the change, because the older "unmarried" language stayed in the Hoosier version and was passed by the General Assembly in early 2005.

So now the Indiana proponents are out of step with their national counterparts and are stuck with "unmarried couples or groups", because if they change it in the next General Assembly, they will have to start all over again and also pass it in 2009 to get it on the ballot in 2010. That would deny them the opportunity to make it a "wedge issue" to draw out the Republican base in November 2008.

So it's full speed ahead with "unmarried couples or groups" and those pushing the measure are hoping they can either hide the differences with the national version or can fool folks into thinking it doesn't matter. But it does.......and some hard and precise questions need to be asked in the public square. Inquiring unmarried Hoosier minds want to know. Let's make sure they do.

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Let's get in the habit of calling it the Marriage Discrimination Amendmant... and making it clear what it is.. instead of using the other side's language.

By the way-- you are providing an invaluable resrouce in parsing the possibilities of that second part. And you're right-- this thing must pass for them to use it to wedge the Rep Party back into power in 2008-- since they are slated to lose big this round.

These people think long-term and strategically. They don't backbite in public and they coordinate and stay on message.

WE on the other hand believe in a diversity of views and spewing venom on each other for not being orthodox enough. We have to stop that -- and see our real enemies -- the Religious WRONG.

Keep up the good work Don-- and Bilerico.

Of course, given the specific wording of the law, it means that a simple legislative act can authorize marrriage of any sort, even if the amendment is passed. The proposed amendment doesn't bother to constitutionally define marriage. This amendment can get into the Indiana Constitution, and the same year it does, the Indiana General Assembly could pass a law that defines marriage as a bond among any number of consenting adults of any proclivities, and it would be legal under this amendment.