If a man with a previous conviction is arrested today for beating his live-in girlfriend in front of their child, he would likely be charged with domestic battery, a Class D felony, and barred from owning a firearm if convicted.
But what if the same man were arrested after final approval of the constitutional amendment contained in Senate Joint Resolution 7, which would ban same-sex marriage? No one can say for sure.
The very uncertainty about how the amendment would affect protection for victims of domestic violence is a key reason why it should not be approved. Language in SJR 7 leaves victims of domestic abuse at risk of future injury or worse. That's because under the amendment the domestic battery statute might be considered unconstitutional if applied to domestic partnerships. A prosecutor could be allowed only to file a misdemeanor simple assault charge . . .
The debate on SJR 7 isn't just about its main provision banning courts from legitimizing same-sex marriages. There are also legitimate concerns that it will close off recognition of civil unions and interfere with domestic-partner benefits extended to same-sex couples in the private sector.
That's because one part of SJR 7 could prevent courts from recognizing domestic partnerships. While supporters argue that it restricts judicial activism, the vagueness of the language makes this an open question.
There are many good reasons for legislators to either amend or vote down SJR 7, preferably the latter. State law already prohibits same-sex marriage, and Indiana lawmakers have more immediate issues to address, such as property tax relief, school financing, full-day kindergarten, and expanding health care for low-income Hoosiers.
You can read more about the Star's coverage of yesterday's hearing on SJR-7 here. The AP story is here.