Two years ago, the General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to place the ban in the Constitution even though Indiana law already defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. But this time the debate is likely to center on how the amendment affects more than gay couples.
Opponents plan to attack the plan by pointing to the second sentence of the proposed amendment, language that they say carries the potential for workers in some government or education jobs to lose so-called domestic-partner benefits and for single women to lose protection under domestic violence laws . . .
The first sentence of the amendment defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
While that troubles opponents, they're just as concerned by the second sentence, which says that neither the constitution nor state law can be construed as giving "the legal incidents of marriage" to unmarried couples or groups.
On the second paragraph, Walter Botich of Stop The Amendment tells Ruthart, "These senators are apparently willing to sacrifice everyone for the sake of a little more gay-bashing." "They're playing politics with people's lives," he added. The sponsor of SJR-7, who couldn't even explain the second paragraph under questioning during debate of the amendment two years ago, still hasn't made an effort to understand his own amendment. "I think there has been a concerted effort to muddy the waters on this issue," said Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield, author of the amendment." "All the legal reasoning I've seen suggests the second section does none of the negative things that the gay community has suggested it does."
Ruthart makes no mention of recent news stories circulating the Internet raising questions about Hershman's own hypocrisy. Hershman's ex-wife told the Logansport Pharos-Tribune in 2000 her ex-husband drove her to an abortion clinic in Merrillville and forced her to get an abortion before filing for a divorce one week later. Although Hershman denied at the time he forced his ex-wife to get an abortion, he didn't' deny the fact she obtained the abortion or he filed for divorce a week later.
The twice-married, hypocritical Eric Miller of Advance America boasts to Ruthart the amendment will have more support from lawmakers this year than it did two years ago. "We don't want courts to have the opportunity to rule that marriage can be between two men or two women," said Miller, founder of Advance America, a Indianapolis-based conservative group. "I think it's very important we put it right into the Constitution to help protect the institution of marriage."
Ruthart's story also includes a comment from one of Indiana Equality's paid lobbyists. "John Joanette, a lobbyist for Indiana Equality, a gay-rights group, disagreed, saying that more and more Hoosiers oppose the amendment and that most think debating the issue is a waste of time." Some members of the GLBT community are questioning the loyalties of Joanette's partner and fellow lobbyist, Mark St. John. In an editorial of the current edition of The Word, editor Ted Fleischaker raises questions about St. John's role in communicating to House Speaker Pat Bauer on behalf of Indiana's GLBT community that people would understand if he gave up the fight to block SJR-7. You may recall Bauer dropped a bomb on Indiana's GLBT community shortly before last November's election announcing he would allow a vote on SJR-7 if he became speaker again, saying, "It's not worth the time." Fleischaker writes:
Who speaks for us? Who speaks for you or for I? Do we get to choose or does a small group of often self-important and self-appointed folks claim they are the voice of the gay and lesbian community?
Sadly, this newspaper thinks that is the case, as many of the mainstream views we find in the community are either being misrepresented to the outside world or ignored by a small clique who whitewash over the fact that what’s being told to the outside is their, not a consensus view of how we as gays and lesbians feel . . .
A prime example is circulating about an alleged “leader” who supposedly more or less told a politician gays and lesbians wouldn’t really be too upset if he pleased the right wing and gave them what they wanted on a certain issue. Now folks are demanding to know why this happened, who made the decision and who the group is (or thinks they are) to speak for us. Sadly, in this case we can’t step back and start again...the damage is done and the cat is out of the bag.
Fleischaker thinks someone should be held to account for St. John's actions. "If holding them to account means resignations or firings, then so be it, but we can no longer appear to be Laurel and Hardy, Cheech and Chong and Bart Simpson rolled into one or two individuals when we are asked to speak before a camera, city or legislative committee," he said.
Sources confirm the account described by Fleischaker. Observant AI readers will recall our own criticism of a $500 contribution St. John made to Rep. Woody Burton (R-Greenwood) in the last campaign cycle. Burton, of course, sponsored Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, and has consistently advocated against GLBT rights during his legislative career. St. John defended the contribution on the basis Burton had assisted him with another client unrelated to his work for Indiana Equality, but his divided loyalties have undermined the credibility of IE. Most of the money raised by IE goes directly into the pocket of St. John to pay his lobbying fees. This is one of the many reasons I will not contribute another dime to IE despite my past support for the organization. At some point, Indiana's GLBT community needs to figure out the extent of the harm IE has done by its past actions and build a new statewide organization that speaks for the larger community, and not just a handful of self-appointed leaders.