Thursday, June 14, 2012

State Party Platforms Not Likely To Impact Same-Sex Marriage Debate

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider has a story today discussing changes in both the Indiana Republican and Indiana Democratic state party platforms on the issue of same-sex marriages. Republicans chose not to mention the issue in the party platform it adopted last weekend. Democrats at its convention this weekend in Fort Wayne plan to adopt a platform that expresses opposition to a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would expressly ban same-sex marriages or the recognition of any other similar benefits. Since 1996, Indiana law has defined marriage as between one man and one woman so a constitutional amendment won't change Indiana's marriage law; however, additional language in that amendment could strike down domestic partner benefits provided to unmarried couples. A number of large employers, including Eli Lilly and Wellpoint, offer such benefits. The Indianapolis City-County Council is currently considering a bipartisan proposal that would extend domestic partner benefits to cohabitating unmarried couples who have declared themselves to be in an intimate and committed domestic partnership, including same-sex couples.

Despite the fact that the Democratic Party is adopting a position opposing the pending constitutional amendment, more than a dozen Democrats elected to the state legislature supported the amendment when it was voted on last year, including House Democratic Leader Pat Bauer. The party's nominee for governor, John Gregg, has also supported the amendment and publicly distanced himself from President Barack Obama's recently declared "evolving position" now declaring his support for same-sex marriage after opposing it throughout his short political career. Gregg's running mate, State Sen. Vi Simpson, opposes the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and other similar benefits. The Republican nominee for governor, Mike Pence, has a long history of hostility towards LGBT rights and supports the constitutional amendment. His running mate, State Rep. Sue Ellspermann, also supported the constitutional amendment during her first term in the House; however, she did support efforts to remove the additional language in the amendment that would also ban other benefits beyond marriage.

Schneider quotes the American Family Association of Indiana's Micah Clark as expressing surprise to learn that the state party platform omitted language opposing same-sex marriage as had been included in recent past party platforms. The issue was not discussed at the state convention, and party platform meetings where the decision was made were held behind closed doors.

"It's unusual for a party to contradict their candidates at the top of the ticket," Clark said.
Pete Seat, press secretary for the Indiana Republican Party, brushed off questions about the change in the GOP platform.
"A lot of issues are covered; a lot weren't," he said. "This platform reflects the broader priorities of the Indiana Republican Party."
House Speaker Brian Bosma and Indiana Senate President David Long have both supported efforts to adopt the constitutional amendment. If it is passed by the House and Senate next year as expected, the measure will go before Indiana voters for approval at the 2014 election. Public opinion on same-sex marriage has changed significantly in recent years with some polls showing a majority now supporting it. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker cited that shift in public opinion as a reason for the change in his party's state platform.

1 comment:

Morning Constitutional said...

Privately many GOP legislators would like nothing better than for the proposed amendment to go quietly away, but still won't publicly tell Eric Miller of Advance America, Micah Clark of the American Family Association, and their counterparts at the Indiana Family Institute to just go away, quietly or otherwise.

More and more they're realizing that follks who may have some religious or cultural issues with same sex marriage still want fairness......and also don't want to be associated with bullying or rather unabashed homophobic diatribes.

Lord, give them spines.