Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

December 20, 2013

BRIAN HOWEY: If you believe in marriage amendment, then own it

When voters decide, they often get it wrong.

When voters decide, they often get it wrong.

Let the people decide.”

We have heard this cry from Gov. Mike Pence and a number of Republican members of the Indiana General Assembly, when it comes to House Joint Resolution 6 — the constitutional marriage amendment.

While Indiana already has a law that says state-recognized marriage is to be between one man and one woman, proponents of HJR-6 want to place this in the state’s most sacred document, the Indiana Constitution.

The proposed amendment states: “Only marriage between one man and one woman will 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.”

At this writing, unless House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long — both Republicans and both lawyers — convince their respective caucuses the amendment is vague, the second sentence will almost certainly collide with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which clearly states no American can be denied “equal protection of the laws.”

Gov. Pence is straddling the dynamic here. The echoes of his own past career of public service include his oft-stated self-description: “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order.” Yet his emergence into the gubernatorial sphere finds Pence at odds with his own historic mission. He has sought separation during his 2012 campaign and his first year in office, persistently saying his priorities are jobs and education.

Yet, he is set to watch his state enter perhaps the most divisive chapter in its modern history. The wink-and-a-nod opt-in by Gov. Pence and his social conservative allies in the Indiana Senate and House is to “let the people decide.”

Now, what is wrong with the notion of letting the people decide?

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