- She betrayed her constituents by telling them she supported a "marriage protection" amendment by voting against SJR-7.
- She voted for the same amendment in 2005 but never expressed opposition to the amendment until it got close to letting voters decide.
- She claimed to have talked to "everyone" about the amendment but didn't talk to its author.
- She claimed a "tearful concern about domestic violence when she had a clear legal opinion to the contrary that the amendment would not affect domestic violence victims."
- She appeared to support marriage "only to be cynically used by Democrat leadership who clearly don't want Indiana citizens to vote on marriage."
- She left the "definition of marriage in the hands of activist judges rather than the hands of Hoosier voters."
Let me make this point yet again. Indiana has already defined by statute the definition of marriage. That law has been challenged and upheld as constitutional by Indiana's so-called activist judges. Same-sex marriages were illegal before and after Rep. Austin voted against SJR-7. Nothing has changed on that critical point.
While it is true Rep. Austin voted for SJR-7 two years ago, concerns about the unintended consequences of the amendment did not surface until recently after courts began interpreting broadly written amendments in other states, such as Ohio and Michigan, to strike down domestic violence laws and domestic partner benefits for unmarried couples. That caused experts in those areas of the law to re-evaluate the meaning of the amendment's second paragraph. Experts on domestic violence laws in Indiana testified the amendment would adversely affect Indiana's current domestic violence laws. The legal opinion offered by the AFA was written by a an out-of-state proponent of state and federal constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, who was neither an expert on Indiana law nor without an ideological bias.
Although Austin was told by one of the lobbyists for SJR-7 there was no business opposition to the amendment, she learned when she attended the hearing that there was indeed opposition to the amendment from five of the state's top businesses--opposition which had not been expressed two years earlier when she voted for the amendment.
The AFA complains Austin didn't speak to the amendment's author, who presumably is Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield). The amendment was co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Eric Turner and Rep. Scott Pelath. Austin certainly communicated her sentiments to Pelath. It seems to me Hershman bears the responsibility for discussing member concerns with his designated House sponsors of both parties. If Hershman was unaware of Austin's concerns with the second paragraph, it is hardly her fault. And it was no secret after the hearing that Rep. Pelath himself had expressed grave concerns about the second paragraph.
The truth is that SJR-7 would have easily been passed out of committee and approved by the House if the proponents had simply agreed to limit its reach to a definition of marriage--a definition they say they don't want to leave to activist judges to decide. The proponents chose not to amend it because they want to use the issue for partisan political purposes in the next election. Reaching a bipartisan solution to the legitimate concerns expressed by nonpartisan experts was not in their interest.
So when the AFA tells Austin's constituents she won't allow Hoosier voters to "vote to preserve marriage", they are failing to disclose the pertinent facts which would allow her constituents to fairly judge her actions. Who is betraying whom? Is it not a betrayal of Indiana voters to attempt to mislead them into believing marriage is somehow in danger if they are not allowed to vote on SJR-7 and make it a part of our Indiana constitution? And is it not an even greater betrayal to the voters for the proponents to ignore known concerns with the "poorly drafted" amendment (in the words of Judge Robert Bork) and, instead, to urge a "take it or leave it" choice?