Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

November 15, 2013

DAVE BANGERT: Lawmakers not ready to fold on gay marriage ban

It should be up to voters, they say.

So much has been made about how Purdue University fits in with a proposed amendment that would stamp a same-sex marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution.

What will President Mitch Daniels do? What won’t he do? And as other schools follow the lead of Indiana University President Michael McRobbie — who aligned the Bloomington campus with a growing anti-amendment movement — will Purdue’s agnostic silence become increasingly uncomfortable?

The Daniels/Purdue angle is a juicy one, for sure.

But no matter how many universities (IU, Wabash and DePauw so far), how many city councils (the Indianapolis City-County Council was the latest, on Monday) and how many businesses line up against House Joint Resolution 6, the next move really belongs to 150 people in the Indiana House and Senate.

And to hear Sen. Brandt Hershman, a Buck Creek Republican who has been instrumental in guiding the same-sex marriage question to a public referendum, tell it, the more people line up to protest, the more reason there is to keep going.

For Hershman, there’s a careful and necessary parsing of the question facing the General Assembly when lawmakers show up at the Statehouse in January.

“The question I had is, is this an issue of social significance to the degree that it merits the public to weigh in on it? And I believe it is,” Hershman said. “If you look at the level of discussion and controversy it has generated, I would say that’s the case. ...

“I will happily abide by whatever decision the general public makes. And I think the increased discussion that has occurred on this is a very healthy thing. I will say, my personal views on the matter aren’t nearly as important to me as allowing the public to speak their piece.”

Hershman, who represents much of the Lafayette area, carried a similar measure in 2008. It died when Democrats in the Indiana House refused to let it out of committee.

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