Bil Browning

Bauer: Amended SJR-7 quite possible

Filed By Bil Browning | March 16, 2007 3:17 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: constitutional amendment, grassroots advocacy, Indy Star, local politics, marriage, Pat Bauer, SJR-7

Yesterday's Indy Star has an article about SJR-7 that quotes Democratic Speaker of the House Pat Bauer.

Bauer promised that he'd allow a vote on the amendment this year and it looks like he intends to keep that promise. (Although if it were me, I'd have pushed it back till next year to allow other allies to come into the fray. Universities, for example, have been noticeably reticent to come out forcibly in a budget year. He could have allowed for a vote next year and still satisfied the Constitutional requirement of two consecutively elected legislatures!) You'll notice though that Bauer never said that the amendment that would be voted on wouldn't be amended or changed.

Now, Bauer is hinting that this might be where he's going with this. Will they amend SJR-7 to remove that particularly heinous Part B?

A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage will get a key hearing before an Indiana House committee next week. But a provision that critics say could have unintended consequences could be removed, a top lawmaker suggested today.

Proponents of the amendment have said that if any of the language changes, it would restart the lengthy process of amending the constitution. But House Speaker Patrick Bauer, who has consulted attorneys on the matter, said the section that specifically bans same-sex marriage could still advance even if another provision is removed.

"I think that might be the case, but we'll see," said Bauer, D-South Bend.
House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has said that changing the wording would restart the process and has repeatedly voiced concern that Democrats would alter the proposal's language.

Bauer said that would occur only through the committee process and if those concerned about the second provision showed up for the hearing and presented a competent case.

"I've said before, the process will run its course," he said.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before the House Rules Committee.

So let's go back over that last part... Bauer comes right out and says that there are two main reasons why the amendment would be changed: 1) Opponents show up to the committee hearing and 2) Opponents present a "competent case."

In regards to the first point, we have to ensure that we pack that room with people, folks. If Bauer wants to see opponents show up at the hearing, let's show him as many people as we can possibly muster. As for number two, we can only hope that Indiana Equality has lined up quality presenters for the hearing. (As far as I know, no other org has been approached by legislators about having a presenter present. IE lobbyist Mark St. John decided who would testify in front of the Senate hearing last month.) Let's pray that unlike at the Senate hearing, this time we have a Constitutional scholar there to testify against SJR-7. The right-wing brought in "scholars" from around the nation to testify that SJR-7 was peachy keen - even though those same "scholars" also testified in the same states that have had unintended consequences and told their legislators that nothing would happen. While their "scholars" are obviously bogus, we should at least have one this time.

And don't forget that the grassroots summit meeting will be this Sunday night at 6pm. We'll be meeting at Boulevard Place Cafe again - 42nd and Boulevard Place in Indianapolis. We will discuss ways that we can help the fight against SJR-7 in this critical period. Come and bring a friend!

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Gary Welsh | March 16, 2007 8:35 PM

Bil said, "IE lobbyist Mark St. John decided who would testify in front of the Senate hearing last month.)"

Bil, I plan to show up and ask to testify. If I'm denied an opportunity to testify because Mark St. John decided I shouldn't testify, he's going to have hell to pay. I'll be damned if he tells me I can't testify at a public hearing. People will never forget his $500 contribution to Woody Burton, never mind the Indiana Cares disaster that harmed so many in our community. He will not dictate anything on behalf of our community. He's been nothing short of a monumental disaster. The GLBT community should be ashamed of itself for allowing him any role in our business. I heard he did that to Pepper Partin two years ago. People have had it with him. Would he go away, please.

I should clarify what I meant. Mark chose the list of "official" speakers against SJR-7 - those who were on the list as "experts." (The list of speakers I provided in this post)

At the senate committee hearing they allowed folks to sign up to speak against the amendment. I'd imagine this would be the case here too. They only allowed about 4 people to speak because of time limits though; I don't have any idea how many people are already scheduled to speak.

Marla R. Stevens | March 17, 2007 2:25 AM

It is not at all atypical for a lobbyist to coordinate baseline testimony of experts with a committee chair. Time is limited and it's important that critical testimony from experts not get left out. A good lobbyist will orchestrate testimony for best effect intellectually, politically, and emotionally -- much as an impressario will create a concert program that will carry the audience through a range of experiences to a desired conclusion. In this case, for instance, there are no legislators from Indianapolis, so it might be better to have the testimony that someone from Indianapolis might have wanted to give presented from someone the legislator respects from their own district instead.
If someone has concerns that they think ought to be particularly addressed, I'd advise that they communicate first with Mark and perhaps with the committee chair and/or supportive members of the committee. The last thing we need is for an ego-driven bitch fight over a few minutes of testimony. Surely you know that it's far rarer for committee testimony to decide an issue than for pre-hearing communication and the many other factors in play to sway a legislator so that you need not get so tempest in a teapot about it all, much less demand the changing of horses in the middle of this dangerously swollen stream!

I agree, Marla. It is regular. Changing horses in mid-stream isn't a good idea. I just hope that we have a Constitutional scholar this time.

Gary Welsh | March 17, 2007 9:46 AM

The fact that the most articulate and well-studied legal expert in our GLBT community on these issues is excluded from the list is very telling.

Who are you referring to, Gary, as the most articulate and well-studied legal expert in the glbt community? Don Sherfick? Rob Minich? Both seem well-qualified, as do you. (As do a couple of constitutional/human rights scholars that I suppose we should not draw attention to on this list, for their sexuality has been less of a defining characteristic than their professional advancement in their fields.) If some straight scholars testify, that would be dandy, too!

I do generally agree with Marla that the coordinated speakers need to be arranged for specific points with specific legislators in mind. The fewer "usual suspects" the better. That said, I thought they made it through the entire list of anyone interested in speaking to the Senate committee... I signed up late, near the end, hand a particular point I wanted to respond to, with a particular message and was able to speak. But as with other speakers that signed up and went before me, I edited my remarks dropping chunk after chunk as speakers ahead of me hit the angle I wanted to hit. I almost dropped myself off completely. (If somebody has already said something, then it is pointless to repeat it unless the speaker represents an entirely different "constituency".)

As long as we're on this topic, I would counsel against one strain of thought entirely for those who might consider signing up. When we get up and say "if this passes, I'll leave the state", it is an impressive statement if the speaker is a virtually and demonstrably irreplaceable economic or cultural asset. (I, for instance, am not!) In the absence of such an impressive credential, when we in the community say such things, we create two negative thought currents among our listeners. One is: Hm, not a real Hoosier. The other is: Good Riddance. Neither creates in the legislator a motivation to help their fellow citizens.

Chris Douglas | March 19, 2007 8:55 AM

(Incidentally, this morning's Star had an article on a heavily recruited IU music professor who said he would leave... Now THAT's the kind of person who can make that statement with a high degree of impact and credibility.)