Tuesday, April 03, 2007

House Rules Committee Kills SJR-7!

The House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee in a historic vote this evening rejected SJR-7 by a 5-5 vote, with only one Democrat, Rep. Dennis Oxley, voting in support of the amendment to constitutionally ban same-sex marriages and more in Indiana. At the outset of the meeting, Rep. Scott Pelath, chairman of the committee, announced there would be no amendments to SJR-7--just as the proponents of the discriminatory amendment had insisted. That left members with a deeply flawed amendment to consider.

Democratic members in explaining their vote reminded the committee Indiana law already prohibits same-sex marriages--a law which has been upheld by our Court of Appeals. Because there is no agreement among constitutional scholars on the meaning of the second paragraph of the amendment prohibiting the constitution or any state law from being construed to confer the legal incidents of marriage upon any unmarried couple, there is just too much risk of causing unintended consequences the Democratic members contended. Members were particularly concerned about what all the term "legal incidents of marriage" entailed and worried about the negative impact it could have on our domestic violence laws as has happened in the state of Ohio.

This was indeed a very brave and principled vote for Democratic members of the committee, and one that is not without political risk. Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) and the four Democratic members who joined him in defeating SJR-7 demonstrated by their actions today true profiles in courage. Hats off to these brave public servants.

Here's how they voted:

Rep. Terri Austin (D)-No
Rep. Scott Pelath (D)-No
Rep. Russ Stilwell (D)-No
Rep. Earl Harris (D)-No
Rep. Bob Kuzman (D)-No
Rep. Randy Borror (R)-Yes
Rep. Ralph Foley (R)-Yes
Rep. Eric Turner (R)-Yes
Rep. Matt Whetstone (R)-Yes
Rep. Dennis Oxley (D)-Yes

Thank you so much Rep. Pelath, Rep. Terri Austin, Rep. Russ Stilwell, Rep. Earl Harris and Rep. Bob Kuzman for the courage to rise above the politics and homophobia driving this amendment.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker applauded the commitee for its action today. In a press release, the Democratic chairman says:

The amendment raised myriad unanswerable legal questions and was publicly opposed by several major Indiana companies for its potentially chilling effect on the recruitment of top talent.

“House Democrats took a stand today against ill-crafted legislation that would have done more harm than good,” Parker said. “This wasn’t a vote against traditional marriage; it was a vote for protecting vulnerable Hoosiers and promoting job growth.”

Parker noted that among the many concerns raised with respect to the amendment, several related to its potential effect on victims of domestic violence seeking protection from their abusers.

Parker also pointed to public opposition from major companies such as Eli Lilly, Cummins, Wellpoint, DowAgro Sciences and Emmis Communications. “At a time when Indiana is bleeding thousands of jobs each month, the last thing we need to do is restrict our major employers and send the wrong message to companies and workers that might be looking to move here,” Parker said.

Parker called on Gov. Mitch Daniels, who formerly worked for Eli Lilly, to show some kind of leadership on the amendment, especially in light of his much-touted commitment to economic development. “The Governor has had multiple chances to say something about this amendment, but he’s nowhere to be found,” Parker said, noting that Daniels has not held a media availability for five weeks. “For a man who likes to say he’s bold on big issues, he’s been hiding under his desk on this one.”

As I've said before, don't expect any help from Gov. Daniels on SJR-7. He's long since thrown in with the religious right crowd in an effort to head off any primary challenge from the right in next year's gubernatorial election. See the AP story on today's vote here.


Anonymous said...


You would kid us now would you?


Gary R. Welsh said...

No, April Fool's was two days ago.

Anonymous said...

You seemed to have missed the comments from a majority of the committee, including Democrats, who said explicitly and adamently that they oppose homosexual marriages and they believe a marriage consists of only one man and one woman.

How, pray tell, do you consider that a victory? This issue is far from dead. What legislators will do now, on bipartisan basis, is look for another way to lock out the possibility of gay marriage.

In the end, the only victory goes to the few people who raised concerns about domestic violence laws. That's what killed this amendment. Those who want homosexual marriages to be legal appear to have made no progress whatsover.

Wilson46201 said...


Soon the haters will weigh in worrying about illegal aliens having homosexual marriages in peashake houses while burning American flags...

Anonymous said...

5:14 p.m.:

We didn't miss a thing. Try to spin this as you will, but this was a victory for equality. This hatred will probably come back, sure.

But let's hope the proponents take their own advice, and listen to their own arguments: SJR 7 was going to be a economic beacon to "traditional families," or so we were told.

You and other proponents can now move to the states who have adopted similar measures, and leave us to try to somehow make it without you.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon 5:14, I don't claim the Democrats who voted against the amendment support same-sex marriage. It is a courageous vote regardless of their opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage because their Republican opponents will no doubt attack them for supporting gay marriage regardless of their explanation for their vote.

Wilson46201 said...

"Homosexual marriage" was never a major component of the gay agenda. Opposition to it though was a big deal to the rightwing. Inter-racial marriage was not very popular when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it legal. "Homosexual marriage" was being recognized by courts in the same way. This agitated some folk and they made opposition a political ploy.

Why did Indiana need a Constitutional Amendment when it already had a hastily-passed law banning it? As an organizing tool for the theocrats and their allies (mostly in the Republican Party)!

Blocking this reactionary amendment is quite a victory politically for the LGBT movement and for all concerned with civil rights of all Americans. With time, opposition to "Homosexual marriage" will fade away and LGBT folk can claim their full rights as American citizens. SJR7 will be looked back upon with the same distaste as the once-popular laws of racial segregation.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you why, anon 5:14, this IS a victory for those who "want homosexual marriages":

The bigots who want to write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution to ban something already banned by the law are on the wrong side of history, just as were those who have wanted to write racial and gender bigotry into the law. If we defend the Constitution from these zealots long enough, the day will finally come when those whose instincts are not to divide and demean will have the political upper hand. Just as other forms of legal discrimination were slowly and painfully eliminated by the growth of conscience and right reason, this bigotry, too, shall pass. Meanwhile, we need to fend off the Constitutional tinkerers and theocrats long enough for the better angels of our nature to emerge. This is a monumental victory for justice and reason and another chapter in the American saga of expanding the boundaries of American liberty. The bigots will fight on, more furiously then ever, as they always do when they approach defeat, but we shall overcome. God Bless America and Indiana!!

C. Hedges said...

I must be turning into a Libertarian, but I'm getting tired of the government playing nanny -- whether it is banning driving while using cell phones, taking away 2nd Amendment rights, or looking into bedrooms to see what consenting adults are doing.

Was this an issue that was on anyone's radar screen before it was brought before the committee?

The legislature should fix some of the real problems -- such as fixing failing public schools and bringing business and jobs to Indiana -- instead of wasting time.

Anonymous said...

Hats off to you, Gary. Your informative blogging on this issue made a big difference with lawmakers and opinion leaders.

Wilson46201 said...

By they way, we all owe Gary and other "scriveners" a great debt of thanks for their legal work in deconstructing SJR-7 and its pretentious and fuzzy second sentence.

Thanks, dude!

Anonymous said...


Gary, great job on keeping this in the forefront. W/o this blog, the Star doesn't FINALLY get around to asking questions about part 2 and the universities, corporations and DV advocates, w/o the Star finally getting around to it legislators don't hear from them, and this passes through just like last time.

Anonymous said...

I join in the kudos to you, Gary, and other bloggers for exposing the flaws in this silly amendment. This is why you need to keep going when it seems like it doesn't matter.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks Tracy, Wilson and others for your kind comments. It became quite a group effort which paid real dividends this time.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to beleive... it doesn't seem real!

5 votes and its dead.
Like the Wicked Witch of the West in the 'The Wizard of Oz' - splash and 'poof!' gone. dead.

Wow! Thanks to everyone: Gary, Both Chris', Bil, Jerame, Randy, Jon, Linda, Julie, Kevin, Jeff, Kathy, and everyone!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice to finally win one since the HRO?

I join in the congratulations to Gary for helping to keep this an issue that Hoosiers talked and read about for months. We couldn't have done it without you, Gary! Great job!

I have a post up now too about SJR-7's defeat. I also posted on the AVA site and BlueIndiana. :) Let's sound this one from the rooftops!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thank you, Bil, for all your efforts. It does feel good.

Wilson46201 said...

It's not "dead", just stunned into immobility for a year. The damn thing will be reintroduced a year from now in the next session of the General Assembly. If (God forbid) it should pass that session, it will hit the voting machines in the 2008 fall election.

Indiana will be having a hot Governors race, 3 hot nationally-contested Congressional races, Indiana House races as well as the Presidential contest. The wingers really, really want to bring out the fundies for this hot 2008 election season.

Anonymous said...

The news is great, and many, many people deserve a lot of credit, including you and your writings.

One question: When a committee "kills" a bill (including a failure due to a tie vote, is there a process to bring it up on the House floor anyway (by some greater than majority vote, etc.)?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Don, that's a good question. Not sure if this is correct, but I believe the minority can always file a separate minority report with the full House requesting that SJR-7 be reported favorably to the whole house. Typically, such motions are rejected on party line votes when it is offered by the party in the minority. Approval of the minority reports, however, is not without precedent. I've seen it happen at least a couple of times in the past.

Wilson46201 said...

There do exist arcane parliamentary tricks to "blast" a bill out of committee but they rarely succeed, especially if opposed by majority leadership (aka Pat Bauer).

I recall years ago Senator Julia Carson trying to blast the Dr. King Birthday Bill out of a reactionary committee. We had hundreds of demonstrators in the Atrium to back up her effort but it failed that year. Eventually we won!

Anonymous said...

Good. Now we can start over again with just part one and get this thing on the books! I mean, no companies obviously care if part one passes, since I don't recall them making a peep when the state law was being debated.

Matt Briddell said...

At the risk of sounding dramatic- it's not dead yet. Like any good horror movie, the bad guy usually comes back for one more appearance. :P

But it's at least comforting to not have this breathing down our necks for a while.

Wilson46201 said...

The original law was passed in a surprise blitzkrieg by the rightwingers. The gay movement was caught off-balance by that sneak onslaught years ago. It was so successful that the wingers are now trying for a repeat to cement it in place with constitutional amendments. Originally, there was little debate: same-sex marriage was then as preposterous as mixed-racial marriage used to be years before that.

The LGBT movement has been stymied nationally by the iron-grip of the reactionaries in the GOP Congress. Having an antagonistic President doesnt help either! There are movements to get some decent LGBT-friendly legislation through the newly-Democratic Congress. We shall see!

A same-sex marriage ban law today would be countered with a civil-union system. These are being passed in several states.

Anonymous said...

"With time, opposition to "Homosexual marriage" will fade away and LGBT folk can claim their full rights as American citizens."

By the time this happens, the Muslims will already have us by the balls. Guess what will happen to gays under Islamic Shaira Law? Germany and Ontario are already leaning toward allowing _some_ Shaira laws. The flood gates have cracked, we ain't seen nothing yet.

"The bigots who want to write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution to ban something already banned by the law are on the wrong side of history..."

These folks are equal to the bigots who force me to hire a certain amount of folks based on skin color, sex organ, etc. etc. or I will get slammed with a lawsuit claiming discrimination. Even if I prove there was no discrimination at all, I think the company is still stuck paying all their own legal fees. These bigots are also related to the bigots who, with threat of forced imprisonment, steal my money from me and give to layabouts, bums, and mopes. One day, this country might once again be the pinnacle for individual freedom and rights. Until then, it is nothing more than a concentration camp without the fence, forcing people to act in a way that the powers that be want them to act. I no longer care about this country. I will not fight for this country nor will I allow this corrupt anti-freedom government draft my kids to fight their wars. This is their multi-culture blissninnie paradise, so they can fight along side their kids.

Anonymous said...

"A same-sex marriage ban law today would be countered with a civil-union system. These are being passed in several states."

Are mormons and muslims finally allowed to join in union with multiple partners or are we still discriminating against certain folks?

Wilson46201 said...

Why do anonymous nobodies come in here in our time of celebration with their tired, repetitious, hostile comments? Give it a break, guys! Sheeesh...

Anonymous said...

"It is a courageous vote regardless of their opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage because their Republican opponents will no doubt attack them for supporting gay marriage regardless of their explanation for their vote."

I see it completely differently.

Five legislators didn’t vote in favor of gay marriage.

Instead, five legislators voted to jeopardize domestic violence laws and to hurt Hoosier businesses and universities.

Remember, the best defense is a good offense. ;)

Use this vote against them.

Anonymous said...

anyone know? I'm not an expert but, as i understand, a const. amendment has to pass 2 separate assemblies (i.e. it has to pass in 07/or 08, after it already passed in 05/06) and then be voted on. I understand it could come back next year in 08 (assuming it's truly dead this year) and would meet the req. But assume not (now here's the question...): Does it have to be 2 "consecutive" assemblies? Or if doesn't pass in 07-08 (either this year or next) then could it come back in 09-10 and count as the "second assmebly") and tag onto the 05-06 passage?

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 10:23, the answer is yes. The amendment could still be voted out next year and eligible for adoption at the 2008 general election.

Anonymous said...

ok! why did the idiot democrats and republicans spend this much time and money to come up with nothing?. the constitution says marriage is between a man and a woman and it stands as it should.

Anonymous said...

No, that's the point. The Constitution does NOT say that. And won't, if this amendment does not pass in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Pushing a minority report, or asking the House to suspend Rules and allow a non-favorable Committee vote to come forward, is allowed under House Rules.

It's rare, and Bauer will fight it, but it happens. And it requires only 51 votes to do so. I believe in Congress, a super-majority is required for such nontraditional action.

That said, this is a tremendously great victory.

Diligence. Does anyone think Eric Miller really gave up yesterday?

The deadline for second reading is Monday. If we can survive without a floor-busting move through that, I'll bet we're home free, for this year.

Gird up for 08, though.

Anonymous said...

Pretty soon Eli Lilly will announce that they have to move their headquarters out of Indiana because they can't count on Indiana law to protect their employees. Then the shit really hits the fan.

Matt Briddell said...

Oddly enough, Miller et al did get what they want. They were pushing for the amendment to get voted on as is- and it was. B)