Bil Browning

What They're Saying: Indiana's Marriage Discrimination Amendment

Filed By Bil Browning | February 08, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: Freedom to Marry, HJR-6, marriage amendment, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

An Indiana House committee passed a marriage discrimination amendment yesterday, sending the bill to the entire House for passage. Similar legislation has died in committee in previous years, but since the Republicans took control of both legislative branches in the past election, it's expected to easily pass this time.

Indiana.gifIndiana law requires any constitutional amendment to pass two consecutively elected legislatures, so the soonest it could be on the ballot would be 2014. The bill would also ban domestic partner benefits (including private companies) and civil unions; it would also invalidate any marriages legally performed in other states.

The issue also illustrates my constant criticism of how conservative Hoosier Democrats have become quite nicely. The political shift has been completed now. Democrats are the new Republicans, Republican legislators have joined the Tea Party, and the Libertarians are the new Democrats.

Don't believe me? Read on to see what Indiana's political pundits have to say about the amendment...

From conservative FOX radio host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz:

Same-sex marriage is already against the law in Indiana and in the 6+ years I've been here, I have yet to see a successful legal challenge to overturn that. And even if gay marriage was made legal, are gay couples who want to tie the knot really that much of a threat to the fabric of the Hoosier landscape? No offense, but I will gladly take my gay neighbors across the street who keep their home in nice shape and look out for us as opposed to the single-mom breeder down the street who pops out unruly kids like a pez dispenser.

In the year and five months that I've been married (notice how I got that timelime correct) and three years and two months my wife and I have been together as a couple (not bad for a married man), of all the things we ever fought over, gay marriage has never been one of them...

So let's be reasonable here. I know the marriage amendment will likely pass, however I'm not sure if everyone has thought out all the consequences of this, such as what this does for local governments that want to offer domestic partner benefits? I know Indianapolis City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield is looking at offering such a proposal. And what does this do for private companies that want to offer such benefits as well?

From popular Libertarian blogger Doug Masson:

So, if you're just shacking up together and want to provide for the orderly transition of property and care of the children and whatnot, maybe Indiana is not the state for you.

I've said it before. I've come to believe this kind of legislation is on the wrong side of history, is actively bad, and will come to be regarded as an anachronism. And, this is probably why there is a desperate push to enshrine it into the Constitution. Because, sooner or later, the people of Indiana will probably want to treat gays like ordinary people and this proposed amendment to the Constitution is designed to make that harder. After all, we already have a law that does this, and the Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld it...

But from Indy's top Democrat blogger (and former head of the Marion County Democratic party):


Not a word.

Indiana's leading progressive blog, BlueIndiana?

They've gone under. Closed up shop. Gone.

But for the best coverage so far of the issue? Go visit the gay Republican birther's blog.

Only in Indiana.

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Similar legislation has died in committee in previous years ...

This is technically correct, but does not tell the whole story. As I remember, a similar (and not quite as bad) bill did pass the Indiana House in 2009, but died in a Senate committee by one vote.

Research online if you want exact and reliable details, but marriage ban bills have made it through the Indiana Statehouse in recent years (as it did in 2007, I think) -- but not out of two consecutive, separately elected legislatures, as required in Indiana to get one on the ballot.

Forgive me, if anyone thinks I am nit-picking. But I think the real story is that Hoosier LGBT's have, year after year, dodged this bullet by the hairs on our political chinny-chin-chins.

Neither version is correct...

The measure passed both houses of the legislature in 2005 or 2006 (def. not 2007) but was killed after being brought up again after the Democrats took back the House in 2006.

It has ALWAYS passed out of the Senate every single time it has been brought up because the Senate has ALWAYS been controlled by Republicans. (They now have a super-majority that doesn't even require the Democrats to show up for them to conduct business.)

It was killed in committee in the House in 2007 and speaker Bauer refused to even allow it to proceed in subsequent years though it passed the Senate twice after that.

I agree with A.J. This ban has been so close for Social Cons that they could taste it for _years_ now. Couple that with an animus built against the Dems for refusing to hear debate and this bill will sail through legislature. I'm actually kind of surprised they didn't take it further.

A.J, from what I gather, the last time the House had a hearing on it was 2007. Every year since then, Bauer just refused to give it even a committee hearing.

There's no need for a marriage ban BILL. That has been on the books since 1997 when Indiana passed it's own version of DOMA. What has been pushed for years and has repeatedly died in the House (until now) was the marriage amendment. Amendments aren't bills, but come through as joint resolutions since they don't go to the Governor's desk for a signature.

I too noted the lack of voices speaking out on this issue. It seems even GetEqual's chapter in Indiana has been largely quiet, and I only spotted representatives of Indiana Equality at the meeting.

There were about 30 or so people in the balcony with me, but as far as I could tell, they weren't affiliated with any group.

The author started the original post with this sentence:

An Indiana House committee passed a marriage discrimination amendment yesterday, sending the bill to the entire House for passage.

Emphasis mine -- AJ.

And yes, Matt, I do understand the difference between a marriage law (which is indeed already on the Indiana books) and a constitutional amendment.

Annette Gross Annette Gross | February 8, 2011 8:46 PM

There were three members of Indianapolis PFLAG at the hearing. We were sitting on the lower level in the back. We were the ones who, at the end of the hearing, urged Patrick Roth to stand up and ask to speak.

And thanks for urging him. It was a very moving testimony and I'm glad he had the courage to give it.

"No offense, but I will gladly take my gay neighbors across the street who keep their home in nice shape and look out for us as opposed to the single-mom breeder down the street who pops out unruly kids like a pez dispenser."

With friends like these...I don't expect any better from a conservative, but it does exemplify how gay marriage becomes a class issue for its supporters, whether conservatives or liberals.

Could he be more of a misogynist?

Yes, Yasmin, not only misogynist, but also classist: The implication being that if we are affluent homeowners obsessed with the appearance of the neighborhood, then we deserve to get married -- but if we are having trouble making our mortgage payments every month and/or driving an old VW bug, then we are indeed second-class citizens whose domestic relationships deserve the short end of the government stick.

This could actually ban private civil contracts? Private companies giving benefits? Based only on gender / orientation?

Marriage arguments aside, how could anything be less constitutional than something as broad as that (if indeed true)?

PS: Are not these the same people that sat they want the government out of our lives and businesses? Absurd.

No offense, but I will gladly take my gay neighbors across the street who keep their home in nice shape and look out for us as opposed to the single-mom breeder down the street who pops out unruly kids like a pez dispenser.

What a dick. Seriously, sometimes I have nothing else to say about such people.


The Libertarian Party of Indiana has continued to express its outrage over the state's introduction of HJR-6. If you take a look at its Facebook page, you will see that it has made vocal opinions about the State House's doings and will continue to do so.

It has promised to stand behind LGBT Hoosiers. I believe them. They have been the most vocal against HJR-6 and were even present at the hearings.

Take a look at what they're doing! They're even putting out a press release about how angry they are!

The Libertarians are a mixed bag for LGBT issues.

As a former Libertarian myself when I lived in Los Angeles (just as GOP and Dems have extreme wings, note that the California version of Libertarianism can be the extreme wing among Libertarians), I was enthusiastic until I encountered Libertarians that opposed non-discrimination laws, even those such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- and I simply cannot support that idea that black people do not deserve equal rights, many such rights of which require special protective measures in a country with a slavery history such as ours. Then, as the AIDS epidemic advanced, the California Libertarians were opposing non-discrimination laws protecting PWA's -- and at that point, I bailed.

These experiences have made me distrustful of the Libertarians as an organized political party. Of course, Libertarian Party platforms vary from state to state, and I'm not familiar with the Indiana platform.

I'm not attacking the Libertarian Party, and I still have a lion's share of libertarianism (small "l") in my blood -- but individual rights do have to be balanced somehow with the principles that everyone deserves life essentials, opportunity and developmental support, and we all must find a way to live with each other peacefully, if not harmoniously.

Tony Soprano | February 9, 2011 1:44 AM

> "from Indy's top Democrat blogger (and former head of the Marion County Democratic party): *crickets* Not a word."

Obviously, Democrats don't have the guts.

Just ask Chair Steve Goldstein, of Garden State (NJ) Equality. He cried in the gallery the day New Jersey Senate DEMOCRATS failed to pass Marriage Equality BY ONE VOTE. The DEMOCRATS had the votes that day. And, that day, the DEMOCRATS also held control of both houses of the NJ Legislature, as well as the Governor's office.

> "Libertarians are the new Democrats"

Not really. They put what they'll do in writing:

"Until the state ceases defining and regulating the institution commonly known as marriage, we support the option of all couples, regardless of gender, to enter into marriage, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of heterosexual couples."

As I wrote in a long-ago bilerico post:
"You (LGBTQQIAAP) keep voting for the Democrats. Let me know how that works out for you."

Rick Sutton | February 9, 2011 5:21 AM

YOu really need to read the Amendment. Here it is, from the Indiana Legislative Services Agency:

Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:

SOURCE: ; (11)SJ9609.1. --> SECTION 1. The following amendment to the Constitution of the State of Indiana is proposed and agreed to by this, the One Hundred Seventeenth General Assembly of the State of Indiana, and is referred to the next General Assembly for reconsideration and agreement.
SOURCE: CON 1; (11)SJ9609.2. --> SECTION 2. ARTICLE 1 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF INDIANA IS AMENDED BY ADDING A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS: Section 38. Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

"Substantially similar" causes grave concern. Read: local Human Rights Ordinances? Civil unions? What?

My guess is they are gunning to make civil unions and domestic partnerships unconstitutional as well, regardless of whatever term that legal status might be given; and probably ruling out domestic partnership benefits from any govt agency from the state govt on down.

I don't see anything here that clearly bans domestic partnership benefits by private companies -- but we can be sure that if this wording gets enacted, someone will go to court claiming that it does that also.

I'll also speculate that it would not affect local HRO's, since such considerations such as housing, employment and public accommodations are clearly separate from the concept of marriage.

But again, this is just my guess.

They'd be hard-pressed to find a way that domestic partner benefits offered by private companies are in violation of the law, but they'll probably go after benefits offered by public universities.

And on top of that, the presence of an amendment banning all forms of legal recognition will probably make it harder for employers in general to recruit GLBT workers, as well as giving college graduates yet another reason to take their degrees elsewhere.