Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 27, 2014

BRIAN HOWEY: Speaker Bosma and the second sentence

Marriage amendment could define his career.

In the post-Mike Pence world of guberna-torial poli-tics — either 2016 or 2020 — Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma is positioned as the heir apparent.

That’s not to say another Republican, such as Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann who has just traveled to all 92 counties, won’t be there to compete. But it is Bosma holding down the most powerful legislative perch in the state. He has the most clout, has raised more than $10 million for GOP House candidates, and has potential IOUs from House Republicans all over the state. He was one of the masterminds that took a minority caucus in 2009 and forged a 60-seat majority a year later, positioning the GOP to write the new district maps resulting in his now 69-seat super-majority.

As speaker, he has done some fascinating things, like appointing Democrats as committee chairs and taking transparency to a new level with the webcasting of not only House sessions, but committee hearings as well. You can be sitting in Whiting, Elberfeld or Lawrenceburg and watch the people’s business on your Mac or PC.

But Bosma is now rolling the dice of the marriage amendment in a way that could define his career.

Throughout the summer and fall, he vowed not to become a “dictator” and said HJR-3 — the marriage amendment — would be “treated like any other bill.”

Last summer when I asked about the marriage amendment, the powerful Indianapolis attorney acknowledged the amendment’s second sentence was troublesome. It precludes any kind of civil unions. He preferred it not be included.

I know Indiana pretty well, and it’s not hard to believe when asked whether marriage should be between one man and one woman, as is current state law, a majority of Hoosiers would agree. But the second sentence — “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized” — is not only a potentially huge legal problem that begs court challenges if passed, but it strikes many as simply unfair and mean.

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