As most of you are probably aware, earlier this week the Indiana State Senate did as expected and passed the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It didn’t stop there though since banning something that is already illegal wasn’t quite enough. The bill also makes sure to get rid of civil unions and really any benefits associated with marriage. It now needs to pass through the next elected legislature after the 2012 elections with the exact same language and then will be voted on by Indiana voters most likely in 2014.
Matt Tully penned an interesting column trying to put a positive spin on the situation saying this gives Hoosiers a chance to send a message against discrimination with a vote striking down the amendment in 2014. He urges sympathetic political leaders, gay rights groups and the business community who view this amendment as anti-business to work together and get ready for the big vote with grassroots efforts and fundraising. And he reminds us that with each passing day, more and more Hoosier see this legislation as spiteful discrimination. These things, in our opinion, are all true.
But we also think that Tully’s column is full of wishful thinking and is based in a dream world rather than the reality here in Indiana. While many Hoosiers do believe this is discriminatory nonsense that should not be put in our state constitution, there are a great many who believe it is critical to protect families and marriage. We’re frankly not sure who or what they think is threatening it but they certainly believe it to be true.
In 2014, these individuals will be worked up into a frenzy by Right-wing advocates like Micah Clark and Eric Miller. Unfortunately, many Republicans and Democrats will begin to pile on to the issue and use it as a wedge in their close elections. And the amendment will most likely pass.
If people want to stop this amendment from moving forward, it needs to be done by kicking the can down the road and ensuring the bill does not pass the next legislature. While all the preparation for a possible 2014 vote is important, the best chance for success is getting a legislature that will not allow this legislation to pass the second time around and will focus on other issues.
Right now, we have an extremely conservative State Senate that will absolutely pass this bill and there is little chance of changing the dynamics in the upper chamber. Even more disheartening is that the likely Republican nominee for Governor, Mike Pence, will surely use this issue as well. The best hope is shaking things up in the House which will be difficult particularly with Pence on the ballot and the TEA Party running around scaring away moderate candidates.
This isn’t a scenario we like very much since we do lean to the Right and typically the folks that support this bill do too. We aren’t advocating to toss Republicans out the door and give the House to Pat Bauer. Frankly, he voted for the amendment this year in the House session so that is not a solution.
The only real solution is for the people who care about this issue is to work within BOTH Parties to find and support candidates based on where they stand on this particular issue. All the groups that Tully mentioned need to begin candidate recruitment and be ready to play in both the Primary and General elections in 2012.
Gay rights advocates have been used and abused by both political parties. This is a human equation, not a partisan one. Until advocates factor that into their strategy, they are going to have a hard time keeping this rock from rolling down the mountain.