Chris Douglas

Correcting the Governor's Record

Filed By Chris Douglas | May 21, 2008 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

The Indianapolis Star on Saturday in reporting on backlash to the Supreme Court decision in California erred significantly in attributing to the Governor support for an amendment banning same sex marriage. This report caught my eye and the eyes of many others for its departure from what the Governor has been known to say in the past. It is important to observe that the Star erred in the report, and that the Governor's position (with which I disagree) has not changed.

It is the Governor's position that the definition of marriage should be a product of democracy, otherwise the people will rebel against what is perceived as a court-ordered imposition. To my knowledge the Governor has expressed support for traditional marriage, but has never voiced opposition to same sex marriage, and has never voiced support for a constitutional ban on same sex marriage. Rather, the Governor has, only when asked, voiced a willingness to support a constitutional measure which would preserve the right of the people to decide. (While I agree that a Democratic nation should recognize the rights of same sex couples to the religious freedoms and equal protections of marriage, I disagree with the Governor in that I believe that relief to gay citizens must be addressed by courts if the people fail to act on a timely basis. Rights are at stake. Still, the 26 states, in which backlash has produced constitutional amendments, stand as testimony to the wisdom, if not the principle, of the Governor's position.)

I note that rather than playing up the matter, the governor's first impulse in answering a reporter's question was to say that he does not see the California decision reviving the issue in Indiana or as a Republican issue.

Below, I print a transcript of the full exchange in the Governor's press conference last Friday in which questioners addressed this topic:

Reporter: Governor, yesterday the California Supreme court legalized gay marriage. Do you see that reviving that as an issue here and do you see it at as a Republican issue going out and saying I told you so?

Governor Daniels: No, I don't. I mean, I don't know. I don't have anything new to say about this. I think whether it's this issue or some other, it's unfortunate when judges rip decision making out of the hands of the people. These things ought to be decided by the people of California or any other state. But nothing new to say beyond that."

Reporter: Governor, I want go to back to Norm's Question. I wasn't sure when you said "no, I don't." Which question were you saying "No, I don't" to?

Governor Daniels: Well, I think he was asking me something about a political prediction. I should just say I don't know. But I've said often that I think it is usually unfortunate when judges take unto themselves the power to make decisions or to overturn decisions that the people of any state have made and I think it undermines democracy and people's sense that they have control over their own lives and communities.

Reporter: So don't you think we need a constitutional amendment to protect against that here?

Governor Daniels: I've said before I would vote for one if it were put on the ballot to protect against this very outcome... to protect the right of the people of Indiana to make this choice and not have it dictated to them.

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