A gay marriage ban is slowly making its way through the necessary phases in Indiana. It first got through committee by an 8-4 margin and was split along party lines. In March of 2011 the Senate voted (40-10) and approved a measure called House Joint Resolution 6 that will write into the constitution a law limiting marriage to one woman and one man; it would also ban civil unions. The House of Representatives approved the ban in February, 70-26. Sadly, this is the sixth time that Indiana’s senate has approved this kind of ban. Now, with Republicans in the overwhelming majority, the bill has a great chance at becoming law. The prospects for marriage equality look dim at the moment but regardless, it will be drawn out and passing the two chambers was just the first step.
Amending the constitution is quite a long, three-step process in Indiana. Next on the list would be to win both the House and Senate’s approval in the 2013 or 2014 sessions. If all goes well at that point, the legislation would then be voted on by the entire state in November of 2014.
The amendment states “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.”
Opponents of the gay marriage ban have different arguments. Senator Lonnie Randolph feels that lawmakers have more important things to be concerned with—like job creation and the state budget—than what goes on within the “confines of the bedroom” of Indiana’s citizens. Others are bringing the economy into the debate. Some of the state’s big businesses, like Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc., think the marriage equality discussion should consider how the ban will affect domestic partnership benefits and attracting top talent to the state. At the moment, however, there is no evidence that the measure will disrupt domestic partnerships.
The other standard “for” and “against” gay marriage arguments are also going on in Indiana. Representative Eric Turner (R) says “the basic unit of society is the family, and the cornerstone of the family is marriage. Marriage is, and should be, the union of one man and one woman.” Meanwhile, Representative Mary Ann Sullivan (D) claims the ban “taints our constitution with the language of hate.”
Despite all the Indiana politician’s opinions, Representative David Cheatham (D) is the only one who has come close to the truth by reminding all involved that regarding the issue of marriage equality “we simply offer that question to the people…we don’t decide that. The people decide that.” Politicians can work to influence constituents but at the end of it all, voters will make the final decision.
What Else is Indiana Doing to Prevent Gay Marriage?
More background information on Indiana’s legislation reveals that the state does not recognize same-sex unions of any sort and that same-sex marriage is already prohibited by statute. The statute reads:
Indiana statute (DOMA) (SJR15, HJR7 and HJR 8): “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) 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.”
This law went into effect in 2004. All the facets of the amendment proposal are in addition to the aforementioned legislation.
- Can same-sex couples marry in Indiana? No, although it is not specifically banned yet.
- Are same-sex marriages from other states recognized? No.
- Can same-sex couples enter into domestic partnerships or civil unions? No.