Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

July 1, 2013

BRIAN HOWEY: A fight brews back home again

State readies plunge into most divisive of issues.

At our state’s signa-ture annual event, the Indianapolis 500, where we present ourselves to a worldwide audience, the actor Jim Nabors sings the words that are so dear to many of us: “Back home again, in Indiana ...”

The irony here is that Nabors is not only gay, but last January he and his longtime partner, Stan Cadwallader, traveled to Seattle where they tied the knot. Here in Indiana, they would have few legal rights afforded traditionally married couples.

I bring this up in light of Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings that knocked down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and punted a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 back to a lower court. In doing so, the high court did essentially two things. It opened up federal rights for domestic partners to do things other married couples do, like filing joint taxes and maintaining property, deathbed and inheritance rights.

It also preserved the right of states to define marriage.

The reaction here is the re-establishment of a battle we will have in 2014, which is to place in the state constitution the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Indiana already has a law on the books that makes gay marriage illegal.

Gov. Mike Pence and Republican legislative leaders that include House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long are signaling their intent on passing for a second time this constitutional amendment. If they succeed, it goes on the November 2014 ballot for voters to decide.

Pence said, “I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all of the people of our state.”

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, sees it as branding the state’s constitution with “inequality,” creating a “blemish on Indiana history.”

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