Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 24, 2013

Amendment isn't needed

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Indiana lawmakers really ought to follow the lead of former Gov. Mitch Daniels when it comes to a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

They ought to listen to industry titans Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc., as well as the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, which announced its opposition to the amendment Tuesday.

Indiana law already bans same-sex marriage. There is no need for a constitutional amendment.

The measure amending the constitution states that only marriage between one man and one woman is valid in Indiana, and it prohibits civil unions by stating specifically that a legal status “substantially similar” to marriage is not valid.

For the amendment to take effect, it would have to be approved by two consecutively elected legislatures before being put to a public vote.

Thus, if the measure passes this legislative session, voters would decide the issue in a referendum in November 2014.

The arguments for and against the legislation haven’t changed.

Supporters say traditional heterosexual marriage is best for raising children, and they argue the amendment is needed to prevent courts from overturning the law that already forbids gay marriage. Opponents say the amendment would effectively write discrimination into the state’s constitution.

Our argument against the amendment is simple. Same-sex marriage already is banned by Indiana law. Debating a marriage amendment is an unnecessary waste of energy.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has said it will not take a position, for or against the amendment. But president Kevin Brinegar told The Indianapolis Star he would prefer lawmakers address jobs, economic growth and education this session.

Daniels gained national attention in 2010 with his suggestion the next president should call a truce on social issues so that he or she could concentrate on the real challenge facing the country, getting control of the national debt. Daniels repeated that recommendation just before the House passed the proposed amendment in February 2011.

The suggestion didn’t exactly endear Daniels to the Republican Party’s conservative base, but he was right. Now is no time for lawmakers to be distracted by this debate.