Bil Browning

Indiana's marriage amendment is DOA

Filed By Bil Browning | January 18, 2008 9:17 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: amendment, Indiana, marriage, New Jersey, Scott Pelath, SJR-7

While several folks have asked why I haven't been banging the amendment drum as loudly this legislative session, I'm happy to report some good news by way of explanation. I didn't have to.

Our grassroots effort from last year really built momentum across the state. Politicians, businesses, organizations and concerned individuals came together to work without the big egos and attention whoring that seems so endemic to a lot of entrenched organizations.

This time around our work from last year is paying dividends. With property taxes foremost on most politicians' minds, appeasing the religious right has felt the pinch. The Indiana House will not be holding a hearing on SJR-7 this year. That means Indiana's hateful bit of gay bashing is dead.

A Senate committee plans to debate the amendment next week, but the issue’s fate hinges on action in the House, where the amendment died last year in that chamber’s Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee.

Rep. Scott Pelath, the Michigan City Democrat who is chairman of that committee, said today that the most urgent issue emergency facing the state is property taxes, not same-sex marriage, which already is banned by Indiana law.

“I’m not planning on having a hearing,” Pelath said. “The short session (of the legislature) was designed to deal with emergencies. We have a very serious problem with the property tax system and we don’t have any gay marriages in Indiana.”

State Senator Brandt Hershmann has proven himself not a man of his word once again. Remember when he said he wouldn't introduce SJR-7 into the Senate until it had a hearing in the House? Apparently he lost his stare down and decided to bring the amendment up in the Senate again - even though it wasn't required to pass the Senate after it had already done so last year. What do you expect from a guy who allegedly forces his wife to have an abortion and then divorces her?

Even Hershmann's sour grapes hearing for SJR-7 can't take away from all the incredibly hard work the "little people" put into killing this discriminatory amendment. It was particularly pleasing to hear that at tonight's Stonewall Democrats event with new national leader Jon Hoadley, local LGBT leaders were acknowledging that the grassroots effort was how the battle was won last year and where their focus should be in the future.

After local LGBT leaders pooh-poohed bloggers and community organizers as trivial and unimportant, it makes me smile to realize that it took all of us - grassroots organizers and organizational lobbyists - to turn the tide. No one person made an overwhelming difference.

We all did.

And that's how it should be.

*While we spend a lot of time bitching about HRC (me included!) - we couldn't have done it here without Stu Rosenburg from HRC. That man is a powerhouse and if you get a chance to work with him - jump on it!

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“I'm not planning on having a hearing,” Pelath said.

Too often in political speech, the "I'm not planning" statement ends up being "I've decided to anyway" later on. I hope it sticks this time.

Thanks for the information.

Good point.

Pelath is the chair of the committee the bill was assigned to. He also chaired the committee last year when it died in committee.

I think he'll follow through.

I don't know if believing the issue is dead is a real smart move yet! Politicians love to say one thing and seem to always do another. I won't believe it is dead this session till the session is long over.

Hershmann; I was told, was "falling over himself to get the issue on the docket again this year". He is so determined to add discrimination to the state constitution it seems at any cost. I don't think a little thing like taxes will keep him off the soap box.

Whoo! Go Grassroots!
Give me a G! Give me an R! Give me an A! Give me....

Jan Williams | January 19, 2008 9:17 AM

I am not sure that saying the issue is dead is a complete reality. This is rather, IMO, cause for cautious optimism... as tides can turn. As we are riding the crest, we must still be vigilant. Let's keep pressure on the Senate and House committee members with letters and phone calls. Let's bury this dead horse!

As long as there is a chance, I believe we need to be prepared. How many issues in the past have we played catch up on because we didn't have a proven plan in place? If the possibility is there, proactive is better that reactive. I'm with Phil..."til the session is long over".

I certainly hope, Bil, that you are correct --- however, I agree with those who have posted notes of caution --- apparently we can afford to be optimistic, but let's also be vigilant. I don't want the RR to pull a fast one on us at the last minute, and suddenly we find ourselves facing a November referendum.


I agree with you that it is dead and that our blogging community deserves most of the credit for it. The businesses who jumped on board in opposing it last year were influenced by some of their key employees and lobbyists who were reading what the blogs were writing about SJR-7 and came convinced it had to be killed. Lobbyists on both sides of SJR-7 have been fanning the issue this year in hopes of justifying payment for their services for another year. It has been quite clear Pat Bauer and the House Democrats had no intention of letting this issue appear on the ballot this November since last session. As for the Senate's superfluous hearing this week, I would urge the GLBT community to boycott it to make the point that lawmakers are simply wasting their time discussing it because Eric Miller has to show his contributors he's doing something for all the money they send him. Don't give them the satisfaction by showing up to testify on it.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 19, 2008 5:38 PM

While Gary's idea concerning not showing up to even testify has some appeal insofar as Eric Miller's money coffers is concerned, not being there to counter proponent's offerings, especially their masking some history and division within the ranks of drafters, would give them an unfettered platform. Nope.....however much the hearing may be pure "theater" on their part, it ain't over until you-know-who sings. So the opposition will be there, and ready to speak the truth concerning the proposed amendment.


I wouldn't expect IE to listen to anything I have to say anyway. Is all I have to do is suggest something, and they will urge the complete opposite. The GLBT community at large, however, would agree overwhelmingly with my recommendation on how to approach this hearing. And my recommendation is the smarter move and would play the best in the media. And damn it, Don, for one last time, SJR-7 is dead and everyone in IE's leadership has known this from the start of the session. I will not allow members of our GLBT community to be deceived by persons with their own self-serving agenda. It is a fundraising ploy and nothing more. I won't be fooled into contributing a dime and I hope others aren't as well.

Bill Perdue | January 19, 2008 6:51 PM

Bil, This is another setback for the right. They've also had problems in Arizona, Massachuttess, Oregon and Florida aned etc. When we see samesex marriage become the law in a few more states and one of these DOMA's repealed then we'll know we've turned the corner.

Homosexuality is perverse and icky. Perverts have made this world slouch to moral decay. Your bunghole is going to rot out with worms you disgusting git.