Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bosma: Gay Marriage Amendment Not So Important Afterall

Last week AI told you about a Town Hall meeting House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Senator James Merritt (R) were planning to hold last night in Lawrence to discuss their "Republican vision for Indiana's future." We encouraged area residents to attend the meeting, and a few local gay activists decided to go and ask questions of Bosma about the gay marriage amendment. That would be the one he devoted so much time and attention to in his first year as Speaker of the House, having successfully sheparded it through the first in a two-part process to place the proposed amendment on a statewide ballot for consideration by the state's voters.

Some of you may recall that when Bosma was still in the minority, he pressed then-Speaker Pat Bauer to no end to call up the amendment to write discrimination in the state's constitution against the state's gay and lesbian citizens. In pressing his case for the amendment then, he said it was "the most critical piece of the people's business." Bosma now claims to have had a change of heart. It seems that was just a statement he made in the heat of the moment.

Bil Browning, who had the opportunity to question Bosma at the Town Hall meeting, reports over at Bilerico that Bosma was first questioned by Don Sherfick about the second part of the gay marriage amendment he touted and its potential unintended consequences. The second paragraph (b) of the amendment reads as follows:

This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

The language of the second paragraph clearly goes beyond banning gay marriages. It impacts equally on unmarried straight couples as well, a point that has not been lost in Wisconsin's current debate on a similar proposed constitutional amendment, and has proven to be the opponents strongest argument for its defeat. Browning reports that Bosma, in response to the question, emphasized that he didn't think that the amendment itself was all that important; rather, the debate itself on the amendment is what he deemed important. As to paragraph (b) of the amendment, Bil writes:

Bosma did indicate that he would be investigating "Part B" of the amendment although he kept assuring everyone that legal scholars had already looked at it thoroughly and assured him it was perfectly fine.

Bil wasn't buying Bosma's response to the first question. He then posed a second question to him:

Despite the fact that you said earlier that the unnecessary amendment wasn't that important, that it was the debate, not too long ago - a couple three years ago - you became a champion of the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, in fact, you called it "the most important of the people's business." Can you tell me, with a law already on the books to ban same sex marriage that has been upheld by those "activist judges" you're worried about, the appeals court - they agreed with you, by the way - what it is about my family - my partner and I, our 12 year old daughter, our two dogs and a cat - that threatens yours? What do you need protection from? If your amendment doesn't pass, will you suddenly divorce your wife? Will you disown your children? Melt the wedding rings? Don't you think that this amendment is an unnecessary slap at LGBT Hoosiers? What has my family done to you that you would start attacking us? What do you need to protect your marriage from?"
Bosma couldn't deny making the statement that the amendment was "the most critical piece of the people's business." Instead, he explained to Browning that it was simply "hyperbole" and "exaggeration" he had used at the time for purposes of debate. He then went on to explain that he didn't think the amendment was at all important. In an audiotape recording, Bosma can be heard saying the following:

And uh. Then Speaker of the House Pat Bauer was not recognizing myself or two of my caucus members pursuant to a motion that was very much still allowed and been recognized for generations on the House floor. And he yelled at me, "We're only going to do the people's business," and I did responded back to him, "Well, this is the most important part of the people's business." Now, I don't believe this is the most important part of the people's business with everything that's been going on, but at that moment it sure seemed like it because it was the right thing to debate.


Another local activist, Seth Kreigh, was able to do a follow up question with Bosma on the potential impact of paragraph (b) on the ability of unmarried couples to obtain restraining orders in cases of domestic violence, using the recent cases in Ohio as an example. Browning reports that Bosma again indicated he was willing to review paragraph (b), explaining that if it is dropped from the current amendment, the process for its approval will begin anew.

What Bosma was trying to explain to Don, Bil and Seth is that the gay marriage amendment is really just about politics to him. It's a wedge issue he can use to placate the extremist demands of the religious right, led by the likes of Eric Miller and Micah Clark, and to whip up their support for election time to ensure a Republican majority after the elections. It's no different than the way Bosma played up the House prayer case this year. Dispaired that he didn't have a good wedge issue like gay marriage to banter around this year, he created the prayer issue out of whole cloth, wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in the process.

Much to Bosma's disappointment, his phony touting of these "values" issues have pretty much run their course. Hoosier voters aren't going to be distracted from the real issues that matter. His remaining days as Speaker are now less than 60 days. He forfeited the right to lead the House of Representatives when he decided to turn the House of Representatives into the House for "white, heterosexual Christians only" instead of the House of all the people it is supposed to be.

2 comments:

lori said...

Well said Gary.

Bil Browning said...

Thanks for the story, Gary. I agree with what you said - it's all about the wedge issue. He doesn't really care about same-sex marriage anymore than he cares about having a tent revival before the legislature convenes. It's all politics is what he was saying.