Local state lawmakers agreed that traditional marriage between a man and a woman should be protected, thus a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage should be implemented.
With people around the state divided on the issue, both Rep. Dave Cheatham, D-North Vernon, and Sen. Jim Lewis, D-Charlestown, told a sparsely attended Third House session Saturday that they will support an amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples."
Marriage is sacred," Cheatham said. "For thousands of years, marriage has been the center of the family.""I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman,"
Lewis said. "I don't think people should be punished, but we need to set a definition."
Lewis' statement that he doesn't think "people should be punished, but we need to set a definition" is laughable. Sen. Lewis had an opportunity to pass a version of SJR-7 which merely set a definition, but he did not support such an amendment proposed by Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) when SJR-7 was in the Senate. Opponents have clearly demonstrated that the second paragraph of SJR-7 goes far beyond a definition of marriage in limiting the rights of unmarried couples, whether straight or gay. Lewis' claim that he doesn't intend to punish people simply doesn't hold water. Rep. Cheatham relies on the old adage that "marriage is sacred" to defend his bigotry against gays. Just for once I would like someone who relies on that adage to explain how the institution of marriage is any way bolstered by this proposed amendment. And it is clear from what Cheatham had to say that he is completely ignoring the overwhelming evidence offered at last week's hearing about the problems SJR-7 will create. The Courier reports:
Cheatham, however, countered with another school of thought, telling the audience that he wasn't trying to prevent people from losing benefits, but trying to define marriage.
"Let's not attach marriage to these rights," Cheatham said.
Though Cheatham doesn't think that same-sex couples would lose out on benefits, other people disagree. Last week, three prominent Indiana businesses came out against the amendment, saying that employees would lose out on health insurance and other perks. One of those businesses was Cummins Inc., which spoke out because many believe that the recruiting drive to attract workers would be hurt if the amendment passes.
Cheatham and Lewis don't foresee Hoosiers losing health care because of a marriage amendment."Everyone has a right to health care," Cheatham said, referring to heterosexual and homosexual couples.
Democrats in the district of the late Sen. Anita Bowser chose a tired-old former sheriff to take her place in the Senate rather than a more progressive candidate who would have shared Bowser's views on issues of equality. Democrats chose former LaPorte County sheriff Jim Arnold over Deb Birkholz by just one vote. While Birkholz' positions would have likely mirrored Bowser's positions on social equality, Arnold is more likely to join the likes of Sen. Lewis and Senate Minority Leader Richard Young in casting votes down the line with the religious right and against social equality.