MAHERN: A marriage game plan for Republicans

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Louis MahernAlthough they don’t all have a natural sense of rhythm, and a few of them are always laughing and carrying on, some of my best friends are Republicans.

It pains me to see how they have painted themselves into a corner on same-sex marriage.

Sure, it worked in 2004 when Karl Rove convinced the Ohio Legislature among others to put it on the ballot in order to gin up turnout among rural fundamentalist Christians. For years, Indiana Republicans made hay out of the fact that House Democrats wouldn’t allow a vote. Beating up on same-sex marriage seemed to work election after election.

Just when Republican legislators thought they could surf this issue once or twice more, the world has turned upside down. Some of their closest allies and funders in the business community have gone south on them and come out against House Joint Resolution 6, which would enshrine the statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage in the Indiana Constitution.

Legislative Republicans remind me of a runner caught off base between first and second. Not only are they going to be out, but in a most embarrassing way.

However, there is a way out of this pickle. Business and university opposition to the proposed amendment mentions the second sentence of the amendment and the threat it poses to same-sex benefits currently offered in the private sector.

As the well-informed IBJ reader is probably aware, the constitutional amendatory process requires the proposed amendment pass two legislative sessions with an intervening election with exactly the same wording.

Should the amendment pass this upcoming session, the referendum will be on the ballot in November.

Given recent actions of the U.S. Supreme Court, most observers believe it is only a matter of time before the court rules that state statutes and constitutional prohibitions of gay marriage are contrary to the U.S. Constitution.

In 1967, the court ruled in the appropriately named Loving v. Virginia that anti interracial marriage prohibitions were unconstitutional. Shamefully, Indiana had such a law on the books. When the General Assembly next met, they quietly repealed the offending statute.

If HJR 6 is enshrined in our Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court rules as expected, how then will the Legislature “quietly” amend out the offensive language with the requisite two intervening sessions and referendum? Or will it leave the language stand as mute testimony to Indiana’s less-than-tolerant heritage?

GOP leaders have the perfect opportunity to have it both ways. They can satisfy their corporate paymasters by amending HJR 6 to take out the second sentence, which threatens some current private-sector practices. They can satisfy their primary-voting fundamentalists by continuing to oppose same-sex marriage with a “new and improved” constitutional amendment.

But the biggest advantage to the GOP is such an amendment to the amendment would allow them to reset the clock and push the referendum out to 2016. As it stands, if the General Assembly passes HJR 6 in its current form, the good people of Indiana will vote on the proposal in less than a year. No doubt public opinion is changing fast on this issue, but is it changing fast enough in Indiana?

Do Senate Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma really want to chance the Legislature’s folding and not taking a vote? Or in an even more far-fetched scenario, the Legislature defeats HJR 6 in a roll call vote?

Do we really want to take a chance on a referendum in a relatively low-turnout, non-presidential year of 2014?•


Mahern has been an assistant to U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs and U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh and served in the Indiana Senate. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?