Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 6, 2014

Marriage debate gridlock

Amendment fight could tie up Legislature for years.

Kokomo Tribune

---- — A bipartisan effort in the Indiana House of Representatives this past week increased the chances the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage could be set off for a referendum until at least 2016. By a vote of 57-40, a House majority dropped the controversial provision that would prohibit civil unions or similar procedures in Indiana. The group voting for the altered amendment included 23 Republicans.

That possible delay could come about because of the change in language. The language of the proposed amendment must be identical to that approved in two sessions for it to go to a statewide ordinance.

The proposed amendment could pass this session and go to a statewide referendum only if the language is identical to that originally approved. However, with the change as approved by the House last week, and with the Indiana Senate sticking to its guns with the original version, the issue could be stalled for years.

Of course, as we have said here previously, the Hoosier State would benefit most should the issue be scuttled.

That is the view, as well, of Indiana industry and business, Indiana universities and a number of organizations. Not only is it an issue of fairness, but as industry and business see it, passage of the original amendment would send a terrible message that certain citizens are not welcome in Indiana.

The Hoosier State would benefit most from seeing this proposed amendment, in any form, go away. Ironically, even if the amendment fails, the law of Indiana would remain in opposition to same-sex marriage. After all, statutory law in Indiana already bans same-sex marriage. Consequently, by adding the ban to the state constitution, it would have the effect of piling on.

It would only double up the message to gays and lesbians that they are secondary citizens, and not entitled to the same rights as other Hoosiers.

A delay in the vote, combined with dropping the civil union provision, would be the second best option, in that it would give supporters of the proposed amendment time to come to their senses before putting the issue to a statewide referendum.

For now, the measure has passed from the House to the Senate, where it goes to the Senate Rules and Legislature Procedure Committee for a hearing on Feb. 10. If the Senate approves the House version, that would put it off until a later year. If the Senate returns the original language, then the House would either have to accept the original language or the matter would go to a conference committee, with an indefinite future.

Regardless, it appears Indiana, which has been deeply divided on same-sex marriage, is headed for weeks more of fighting over what seems to be an unnecessary and time-wasting disagreement.

We are wasting time that could be better spent on such important and legitimate issues as education and taxes.

— Evansville Courier & Press