Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 20, 2014

DAVE BANGERT: A new marriage proposal for Indiana's Republican Party

There's fear of consequences for getting cozy with the left on this issue

The fact that Indiana Republicans are willing to plug a one man/one woman marriage definition into the party’s statewide platform — especially after so many wished that the issue of a constitutional defense of marriage would just go away — speaks to a conservative zeal that’s alive, well and nothing the party can ignore.

It also speaks to a party that is probably more nuanced than any knee-jerk, they’re backward/they’re homophobic/pick your insult a heckler might give them credit for.

Let’s agree for now that it’s not the most progressive move these days, staking a here-we-go-again platform claim on a traditional definition of marriage, given the shifting sands in public opinion that started to consume the General Assembly this spring. Pragmatic Republicans found reason enough to dismiss a sentence dealing with civil unions in a proposed constitutional gay marriage ban, deftly pushing a statewide ballot question from November 2014 until possibly November 2016.

But the marriage plank fought for and won at the state convention in Fort Wayne offers enough wiggle room for GOP members still trying to navigate choppy campaign waters where establishment party maps are no longer accurate and reliable.

It’s sort of where Sen. Ron Alting and Rep. Randy Truitt, two Greater Lafayette Republicans who made U-turns on House Joint Resolution 3, stuck the landing this spring: Yes, I back Indiana’s existing law limiting marriage to one man/one woman. No, I’m not so keen on etching that particular law into the Indiana Constitution. (And, yes, I still wish this would just go away.)

That leaves space to maneuver for a portion of the party that recognizes a mounting generational shift on the issue, if not the slow roll of court proceedings where judges are having a tough time finding that constitutional bans on gay marriage are constitutional at all.

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