As a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution moves closer to approval, opponents are becoming increasingly worried about its unintended consequences.A big hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog for catching this one. To see other entries from the Indiana Law Blog on SJR-7, click here.
Rightfully so. The proposal to define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” carries a message of intolerance that a state desperate to attract and retain new-economy jobs can’t afford to send.
Senate Joint Resolution 7, approved by a 39-10 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, awaits approval in the House. As required by the constitution, it already has been approved by a separately elected session of the General Assembly. If it passes the House without changes, the measure – which effectively bans same-sex marriage – goes before Indiana voters in the November 2008 general election.
Opponents believe the wording is so ambiguous that it would invite lawsuits challenging domestic-partner benefits.
The amendment forbids construing any law to require “the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”
The proposed amendment has created enough concern among faculty at Indiana University that the Bloomington Faculty Council passed its own resolution Tuesday. It expresses continuing support for the university’s policy of offering health-care benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners.
Supporters dismiss the concerns, insisting that the amendment won’t keep public or private-sector employers from offering benefits. But same-sex marriage bans in other states have resulted in legal challenges and mixed rulings. Most recently, a Michigan appeals courts, in a suit filed in response to that state’s constitutional ban, ruled that public employers cannot offer domestic partner benefits.
Successful corporations have long recognized that they must offer such benefits if they are going to attract and retain top-level employees. Among the Indiana companies that do so are Bank One, Cummins, Dow AgroScience, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Guidant, General Motors, Lincoln National, the NCAA, Pfizer, Raytheon, Verizon Communications and Wellpoint. Among Fortune 500 companies, more than 400 offer domestic partner benefits.
Adopting a constitutional same-sex marriage ban – state law already prohibits same-sex marriage – threatens the capability of universities and companies to attract not only gay and lesbian employees, but any prospective employee looking for a progressive environment to live and work in. Efforts to improve quality of life and attract college graduates are sabotaged by measures intended only to restrict the rights of one class of citizens.
If lawmakers are interested in expanding the state’s economy and making Indiana an attractive place to live and work, they must reject the proposed amendment and its small-minded message.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette Gives Thumbs Down To SJR-7
The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette is very troubled by the language of SJR-7 and believes the legislature should reject it. "Efforts to improve quality of life and attract college graduates are sabotaged by measures intended only to restrict the rights of one class of citizens," the editors write. "If lawmakers are interested in expanding the state’s economy and making Indiana an attractive place to live and work, they must reject the proposed amendment and its small-minded message." This is just another in a string of newspaper editorials against SJR-7. Virtually every major newspaper in the state has now editorialized against SJR-7. Here's the full text of the editorial: