Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 29, 2013

Letters to the Editor: March 29, 2013

Defending authority is AG’s obligation

The law of the land recognizes the authority of states to license marriage. The majority of states, including Indiana, provide a marriage license only to a man and woman while nine states also allow same-sex couples to receive a license to marry. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA in 1996 that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal benefits. Under DOMA, states with the traditional definition of marriage need not recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

The two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court challenge both Congress’ traditional definition of marriage in DOMA and California’s traditional definition in its Proposition 8. The central question before the court in each case is: Does the government commit irrational discrimination by adhering to the traditional definition of marriage that has always (until very recently) prevailed in society?

The arguments presented to the court reflect a wide range of viewpoints within the legal community and our society as a whole. Indiana, represented by my office and joined by many other states, filed “friend of the court” briefs in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases defending our state’s authority and the constitutionality of our current laws. There are many who vehemently disagree with this position. I appreciate that there are strongly held views on both sides of this societal debate and understand that opinion polls have shown a dramatic change in public attitude in recent years toward same-sex marriage. But my duty as Indiana attorney general is to represent our state and to uphold and defend our state statutes when challenged, not to represent my personal views or what polls might suggest is popular opinion.

The obligation of attorneys general to defend existing statutes has been brought into question in these two Supreme Court cases, in that the U.S. attorney general and the California state attorney general are not defending their own federal and state laws that are being directly challenged. To make things more confusing to the public, the president, who has stated that his personal views have evolved over the past few years, has decided to have the Justice Department’s U.S. solicitor general argue against upholding DOMA at the Supreme Court. He has expressed through his Justice Department’s legal filings his own opinion that DOMA is unconstitutional.

I view my duty differently. As Indiana attorney general, I don’t get to define marriage or vote on legislation. Instead, as state government’s lawyer I am obligated to defend our state’s laws passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Indiana Legislature. Our state’s legislative branch has the policymaking authority to license marriage within our state’s borders using the traditional marriage definition, and I will continue to defend their legal authority in court as necessary.

Rather than presuming to decide the constitutionality of our laws by leaving them undefended, I will uphold my responsibility to defend them and instead let the judicial branch decide if they are constitutional, as is its role.

Greg Zoeller, Indiana attorney general


Marriage helps kids of gay couples, too

There is obvious opposition to the right of gay men and gay women to marry the person they love. Much of this opposition is religious in nature.

Now, for the record, same sex marriages do not mean that churches have to perform a same sex marriage ceremony, anymore than a Catholic church has to marry Methodists. The government is not an arm of any religion or church. Would we state that atheists can’t marry because they don’t believe they are married under the eyes of this god? Of course not.

Gay people are raising kids, like everyone else. They love their children and families, like everyone else. If marriage helps children, as it does, it does not help the children of gay couples?

To those who oppose marriage equality, what would you say to the children being raised by gay couples? That they don’t deserve to see their parents married? That you find the sex lives of their parents too icky to ensure these children of the benefits of marriage, along with the knowledge that their parents so love each other that they became married? If someone can look into the eyes of a small child and do that, then I hope they aren’t too leaded down by their hardened heart.

 I understand that some people believe their god says homosexuality is bad, but so does eating shellfish, wearing fabric of more than one cloth and a host of other things in the Bible that we rightly ignore. The Bible anway is not the foundation of our nation. Ours is an Enlightenment-based republic founded on reason. Let’s continue that.

Colleen Kronquist, Kokomo