Indiana wants to ban same-sex marriage (again)
After you’ve finished digesting your oh-em-gee-Biebergate stories today, settle down for something a bit more serious, like this news from Indiana yesterday. House Joint Resolution 3 (or just HJ3) would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage (SSM) and legal statuses that are “substantially similar.” The measure was passed out of committee along partisan lines and will head to the state House assembly for a vote. It could, technically, appear on the ballot later this year.
The resolution was passed after four hours of contentious testimony — both for and against — with supporters advocating for the amendment to “prevent a [sic] “activist judges” from overturning Indiana’s existing state law banning gay marriage.” If anything the momentum of developments is working against them nationally. There are now 17 states plus the District of Columbia that recognize same-sex marriage. Last year six states legalized non-hetero partnerships (Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, and New Jersey), while the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban against same-sex benefits in the Defense of Marriage Act and prevented an effort to reinstate California’s Prop 8 prohibiting SSM.
Yet yesterday’s news also comes on the heels of a more recent Supreme Court stay on a lower court ruling that briefly permitted SSM in Utah, a move which has prompted the ACLU to sue the state for not recognizing those marriages officiated in the interim.
If HJ3 makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters, that would make Indiana the 30th state to enshrine the denial of SSM rights into a state constitution. Beyond the denial of those rights, even the process of getting it out of state government and onto the ballot would have consequences. As Zack Ford reported, several studies have shown that such ballot initiatives have deleterious mental health effects for LGBT communities.
The only consideration given by law makers in Indiana, though, was to address (primarily) concerns by companies worried that the measure would make it more difficult to recruit and offer benefits to workers. As a result a companion bill (House Bill 1153) was drafted to ‘clarify’ that the proposed amendment would not affect firms doing business in the state. Earlier this month Indiana Republican and House Speaker Brian Bosma described HB 1153 as a sensible approach; ”Define it as a man and a woman, but remove these concerns that people validly are raising in most cases.”