Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Insult to Injury: Indiana Lawmakers Pass Second Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Same-sex marriage is already prohibited under Indiana law. But to add insult to injury, the state House of Representatives voted yesterday to amend a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions to the state constitution.

Indiana's nightmare. (Photo: Bev Sykes)

The actual language of the amendment reads: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

That second sentence rubs even more salt in the wounds of the same-sex couples already stripped of their civil rights, because what it does is prohibit even the watered-down, separate-but-almost-equal right of civil unions that some states have used to deny couples their rights while still appearing sympathetic to their plight.

 

Conservatives celebrated the 70-26 vote. “The basic unit of society is the family, and the cornerstone of the family is marriage,” the bill’s author, Rep. Eric Turner (R-Marion) ignorantly opined. “Marriage is, and should be, the union of one man and one woman,” he added.

Democrats who voted against the bill disagreed. Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan, from the relatively cosmopolitan big city of Indianapolis (we’re talking about Indiana here, folks), expressed a more enlightened view, telling the Evansville Courier-Press that the ban is “blow that hurts thousands across this great state, and taints our constitution with the language of hate.”

But the forces of hate won the day in the Hoosier state. Conservatives argue that the constitutional amendment was necessary in order to prevent courts from overturning the existing law banning gay marriage. Plus, they say homosexuals are still free to live with and love whoever they wish. “That loving friendship is a different relationship than a husband and wife, and we should recognize that in the law,” said Rep. Ralph Foley (R-Martinsville), no doubt trying to show some compassionate conservatism. But surely the thousands of married same-sex couples in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Mexico City, Connecticut, Washington DC, Iowa, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have more in common than just a “loving friendship?”

The ban now heads to the Indiana senate, where it should pass easily. That same august body of enlightened lawmakers already voted to deny gay and lesbian Hoosiers their civil rights when it passed the first ban on same-sex marriages. After the senate vote, the amendment would have to pass a General Assembly vote and then a statewide referendum.

 

 

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