Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

July 2, 2013

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Lawmakers want vote on gay marriage ban

Many legislators afraid to say otherwise

Chances are good that someone you know and love is gay.

That’s the reality that Indiana lawmakers might need to face in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and the coming political battle in Indiana to enshrine a separate status for gay people into our state constitution.

When Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in the historic decision striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, said the constitution’s guarantee of equality extended even to a “politically unpopular” group of Americans, he was writing about people you know and love.

Twenty years ago, you may not have admitted that was so. Most people didn’t, according to a 1994 poll by CNN that found less than one-third of those surveyed reported having a close relationship with a gay or lesbian person.

When CNN pollsters asked that question again six years ago, the number went up to 45 percent. When they asked it again a year ago, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they had a close friend or family member who is gay.

The number — which will only go up in years to come — is rising because of the many someones we know and love who’ve come out of the closet.

Indiana lawmakers know that. But whether they’ll admit it is something else. Just minutes after the DOMA ruling and a decision in a companion case out of California that upheld that state’s same-sex marriage law, Republican leaders in the Statehouse signaled their intentions to revive the same-sex marriage ban amendment in Indiana.

In press releases, they interpreted the court’s decision as clearing the way for the General Assembly to move ahead on House Joint Resolution 6, known as HJR 6. The resolution would write Indiana’s current ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions into the constitution if approved by voters.

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