Friday, January 18, 2008

Senate Nonsense On Gay Marriage Amendment

Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R) believes the Senate lacks enough substantive things to discuss this session with the State's looming property tax crisis and all so he's going to allot time next week for a superfluous hearing on SJR-7, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and the recognition of any legal incidents of marriage for unmarried couples whether straight or gay. Jim Shella blogs about this absurd development over at the State House:
State Sen. Brandt Hershman’s plan to wait for House action on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage just changed.

First, House Speaker Pat Bauer sent the measure to the Rules Committee chaired by Rep. Scott Pelath, the same place where it died last year. Then the Senate scheduled a hearing for next Thursday.

Senate Republican spokesman Scott Minier says, “Senators are hearing from a lot of people who say the House is more likely to do something if the Senate does something.”

Minier says Senators want to get past the marriage issue so they can get back to dealing with property taxes.

You will recall that the Senate passed SJR-7 last year for the second consecutive General Assembly. That makes any action by the Senate this year totally superfluous and all for show. The General Assembly elected by the voters in 2004 passed SJR-7. The amendment was referred to the General Assembly elected by the voters in 2006. Under Article 16 of the state constitution, subpart (B), if "the proposed amendment is agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each House, then the General Assembly shall submit the amendment to the electors of the State at the next general election." Because the Senate already acted last year, it only requires action by the House to send it to voters. As Shella notes, Rep. Bauer has indicated no interest in wasting the House's time on the unnecessary and bigoted amendment.

As Advance Indiana reported last year, the amendment's chief sponsor is the hypocritical Sen. Brandt Hershman, whose former wife alleges that he demanded she get an abortion when he learned she was pregnant with what would have been their first child, and that he filed for a divorce one week later after she complied with his wishes. As I wrote last year, Sen. David Long is determined to leave a dark legacy on his tenure as President Pro Tempore by continuing to pursue this mean-spirited and bigoted assault on the rights of some individuals for the sole purpose of assuaging a small number of fundamentalist, religious zealots.
Not surpisingly, the Indiana Family Institute's Curt Smith is relishing in today's news. He writes at Veritas Rex:
"The Indiana Family Institute, along with our national partners at Focus on the Family, join in applauding the Senate for addressing this critical public policy issue despite inaction by the Indiana House." "Sens. Bray and Pro Tem David C. Long are especially key in agreeing to this hearing, along with the measure's author, Sen. Brandt Hershman."
And now, I am pleased to report that House Speaker Pat Bauer and Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City), voices of sanity on this issue, have put this issue to bed for the balance of this session. Pelath tells the Star's Mary Beth Schneider that the most urgent issue facing the state is property taxes and not a debate over gay marriage. “I’m not planning on having a hearing,” Pelath said. “The short session (of the legislature) was designed to deal with emergencies. We have a very serious problem with the property tax system and we don’t have any gay marriages in Indiana.” People should simply boycott the useless hearing the Senate Repubicans have scheduled for next week. Sen. Long should be holding his head in shame.


Anonymous said...

Gary, I assume they are reading the law differently and think that the Senate has to pass it again. Or does that just mean that Sen. Repubs are panderbears to get Eric Miller off their backs. Or will the Repubs try to use this to smear the House Dems?

Lots of options there.

Gary R. Welsh said...

They are pandering. Their own legal counsel agrees with my opinion.

Anonymous said...

How do we gwt the repubs out of our bedrooms??? They are your people, Gary. How do we do it??

Anonymous said...

This is all so damned sad.

And so unnecessary.

Maybe the Senate and House Republicans can get Tony Dungy to schilll for them. I'm betting he'll have a lot of spare time on his hands soon, and we already know how he feel son this issue.

Anonymous said...

Long could easily be toppled in a primary by an anti-tax opponent. His constituents were stung hard by huge property tax hikes. The guy is so arrogant he can't see it.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who regularly reads AI because it is so informative...I believe the purpose of the resolution is to give Hoosiers the opportunity to vote on this issue. It's not just a few "religious zealots" who would like a voice, in this case, on marriage.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who regularly reads AI because it is so informative...I believe the purpose of the resolution is to give Hoosiers the opportunity to vote on this issue. It's not just a few "religious zealots" who would like a voice, in this case, on marriage.

Anonymous said...

I imagine that he has a "Huckabee
For President" bumper sticker on the bumper of his car. I have had it with these zealots and their bible thumping......
There is too much more on Indiana's plate than to have some right wing evangelical tying up precious legislative time on a issue that doesn't really mean anything either way to most Hoosiers....
Lets move on.


Anonymous said...

Look 6:24, there is more buried in the second line of that amendment than the most learned judge in Indiana could figure out. Phrases like "legal incidents" of marriage and "construe" will tie the courts up in knots for years.

Even IF Indiana needed such an amendment (due to an outbreak of gay marriages in Vevay and Ligonier and Wabash), THIS language would be fatally flawed. In the end, it actually ( and purposefully) ties the hands of the legislature to give ANY benefits to unmarried couples.

The majority of even the Dems in the House would vote in a heartbeat for the first line, that marriage is only between one man and one woman (because they like being elected, not because they are convinced rightwingers). But they recognized that ambiguous langauge should not be shoved into the foundational document of the state.

Check out or for further references.

Wilson46201 said...

Scott Pelath of the House just announced that SJR-7 will get no hearing or vote -- serious legislators have more important issues to deal with in the Short Session such as PROPERTY TAXES.

Unknown said...

Indiana Equality Action Alert

Ask members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote NO on SJR-7!

Don Sherfick said...

Gary, I have always been under the impression that if an ordinary piece of legislation passes but one house of the Indiana legislature in the first session of a two year elected term, it must start all over again in the second session, and simply cant be picked up by the other house. But I don't see that in so many words in Article 4 on the Legislature in the Indiana Constitution. Is it governed by the rules of procedure? Standing alone, Article 16 does appear by its terms to say that such isn't the case with proposed constitutional amendments, but then I also believe that there is language in the rules (as well as Article 4) referring to both "bills" and "joint resolutions"; proposed amendments are labeled "joint resolutions". Any further thoughts on this?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Don, I posed the question to an attorney for the Senate who said he believed a vote in the Senate would not be required this year to send it to the ballot if the House passed the same version of SJR-7. You can bet the proponents would sue to get it on the ballot if the House passed it and the Senate did nothing. There's no way in hell they would lose in court under the reading of Article 16 of the state's constitution.

Anonymous said...

this is why you should be a democrat

Anonymous said...

In a blog where thought generally reigns, there's significant failure of intellect HERE, on the topic of "Gay Marriage." The heterosexual orientation of the oxymoronic description "Gay Marriage" should be a clue that these are unique, contractual relationships, committed but different than marriage. The right to associate is constitutionally protected, see also the 1964 Civil Rights Act- but READ them & understand that gay Americans HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. Rights are common to ALL people. Christians aren't looking to deny Constitutional rights, but insure the sanctity of marriage, a religious institution that can only be truly sanctioned within the traditions of faith (vs. the toll, fee structure of government). As any lawyer can attest, couples, in a union or marriage, need to have wills (living & otherwise), to insure their wishes are respected. It ain't just the Christian heteros who are wasting time on this "issue."

Anonymous said...

Sadly, marriage/ union / or partner right will be denied to many long-standing couples regardless of what is decided in this General Assembly, due to Indiana's DOMA.

But a new generation feels differently. If a future General Assembly changes its mind, they would be constricted by this amendment.

Look, I rejoice at Pelath's declarative statement, and I believe he is a man of his word. But God Help me, I'll not believe this thing is dead until the session ends.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

if the general assembly doesn't pass sjr 7 this year, it will really be a win - win for both opponents and proponents. for the opponents, not having this amendment will make their lives less onerous. life's hard enough without the government saying what rights you can have and not have. for the proponents, well, this will give them the opportunity to continue raising money for their so-called christian causes.

Anonymous said...

They are pandering.

There's more to the vote than this, I think. If SJR-7 doesn't come out of house rules before the final day to adopt committee reports (which may be next week; I'm not sure), and there is no SJR-7 to come over from the senate, SJR-7 is dead next week. It's a joint resolution, so it can't be amended into anything.

But if the senate passes a version of their SJR-7 before the committee report deadline, it will switch houses with the rest of the bills and at least be theoretically available for action later in the session.

Which is moot if Pelath keeps it killed, of course, but it will die later rather than sooner. And the proponents may hope for a miracle or last minute conversion...

Anonymous said...

Bredon, and others, who think Pelath's action kills this horrid Amendment, had best study House and Senate rules. They are a Byzantine maze of conflicting potential actions.

There is nothing in either chamber's rules that would prohibit a suspension of the rules. Under such an action, anything can be brought up. Even a Joint Resolution.

Of course, such an unusual action would invite a lawsuit should the Amendment mechanism (i.e., public referendum) pass the legislature.

And as for 6:24's belief, that all anyone wants is a public vote: do you want every important issue decided by a referendum? Would we not then become a plebicite, having our own votes ratify all important issues.

If so, why have a legislature? I mean, I detest most of the legislature's actions. For most of my life, as a group, they're a motley collection of village idiots and a few thinkers.

But I'd never alter the Constitution to remove their power to meet biennially and ruminate over the issues of the day. We can call them, write them or visit them and tell them what we think.

Referenda are reserved for only a few issues. Rightly so. Our federal and state Constitutional framers were bright folks.

Whether I marry my partner of ten years is not an issue worthy of referenda. Whether a majority of my fellow Hoosiers want a public referendum is irrelevant. Ouor COnstitution is a fragile historical document. It needs to be amended only when absolutely necessary. A current culture war does not rise to the level of Amendment.

Our children and grandchildren will thank us later, for killing this today.

6:24, get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

Christians aren't looking to deny Constitutional rights, but insure the sanctity of marriage, a religious institution that can only be truly sanctioned within the traditions of faith (vs. the toll, fee structure of government).

Some Christian (among others) churches want to be able to marry adherents who are the same sex, therefore your argument fails.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't anyone caught Eric Miller in an same-sex sexual act yet? I think we all know how it ends with these types.

Anonymous said...

Who would stoop so low as to debase themselves with Miller? I'd pity that one, while applauding his unmasking the "wizard" or the leader of the Unholy Trinity.