Opinion and Economic Analysis

Hicks: Let's debate gay marriage in our homes

November 23, 2013

I have written that the marriage amendment is a poor use of our legislators’ time, but I believe we should have an honest discussion about the matter. Here is what I will say to my kids:

I will tell them that constitutions are mighty things that bind us together in ways that should not be subject to fashion. We Hoosiers mustn’t become too cavalier in amending ours; the major public-opinion shift on gay marriage ought to be sufficient to give us pause. I will tell my kids that in this matter we must be ready to be judged right by future generations.

I will explain to my kids (ages 9, 13 and 14) how lucky they are to be living in an intact family. They will understand this, for they know how hard it is for friends with single parents. I will explain to them that folks who wish to ban gay marriage also know and understand how family problems bedevil the nation.

I will explain to my kids that a full third of our national budget goes to fixing the ills of broken families, and that those who seek to improve marriage are mostly filled with worry, not hate. Still, I shall remind them that hatred is a sin.

I will also explain to my kids that some few who oppose the amendment will accuse those who wish to save traditional families of bigotry and ignorance. Some few will suppose this is a good argument, and that by labeling supporters as hayseeds they can win.

My kids will smile at this; after all, their name is Hicks and all were born in Appalachia. They know well those slurs don’t stick.

I will explain that there are far better arguments against the amendment than personal attacks, and among them is the likelihood that it will keep out some businesses we would otherwise wish to locate in Indiana.

I will also tell my kids that good government ought not be telling families how to organize themselves. Government has not that competence, and adults should be free to arrange their households as they wish.

Finally, I will admit that I am in deep water with theology, but a favorite children’s author of mine, that old soldier and professor Clive S. Lewis, said it best: “There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the state … the other governed by the church.”

So, let us all have this talk with our kids tonight, and ask the Legislature to focus on more pressing matters.•

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Hicks director the Center for Business and Economic Research and a professor of economics at Ball State University. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at cber@bsu.edu.

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