“Only marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman will be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”
|Left: House Speaker Brian Bosma;|
Right: Senate President Pro Tem David Long
HJR-6 was next eligible for consideration in 2013 following the 2012 elections. Even though Republican super-majorities were elected in both chambers (from districts redrawn in 2011), the political winds on same sex marriage had begun to shift. In 2013 legislative session, HJR-6 was pulled off the table by legislative leaders who were worried about the distraction of dealing with that issue while trying to advance an aggressive legislative agenda.
The last hope for HJR-6 to clear the legislative process is 2014. Let me be the first to predict that HJR-6 won't make it, that legislative leaders are going to kill it like they did in 2013. Here is why:
- RELUCTANCE TO MOBILIZE POLITICAL FORCE BEFORE AN ELECTION: The pro-same sex marriage folks are extremely well-organized. If the legislature passes HJR-6 then the amendment moves to the referendum phase and with it a mobilized and energized political force that not only advocates against the amendment but targets Republicans. GOP leadership will not want that force to influence the 2014 elections.
- STATUTORY BAN ALREADY EXISTS: There is already a statutory ban on same sex marriage. Killing
HJR-6 does nothing to change the status of same sex marriage. So there
is a ready "out" for leadership to kill the amendment.
- THE SECOND SENTENCE DILEMMA: The second sentence to the amendment carves out new policy territory which isn't part of existing state law. It is unclear how that phrase would be interpreted. It is contradictory to pass an amendment because of concern over activist judges and then hand those allegedly activist judges a vague prohibition like sentence two. Plus, the language also bars future General Assemblies from passing laws on the subject. The second sentence of the amendment has turned out to be the Achilles' heel of the amendment.
- POLITICAL WINDS ARE SHIFTING...DRAMATICALLY: Poll results always depend on how questions are asked, but most polls show Hoosier public opinion moving sharply against the amendment. More troubling for Republicans legislators, an increasing number of younger conservatives are supporting same sex marriage.
- MANY REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ARE SYMPATHETIC TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS ARGUMENT MADE BY THE OTHER SIDE: Being a legislator is always a struggle between whether you vote your own conscience (the trustee model) or the way your constituents want (the delegate model). Inevitably the approach legislators take shift from issue to issue. When there is public opinion overwhelmingly on the other side, legislators feel they have to abandon their personal views and vote the way their constituents want. (That happens with legislators in both parties.) Now that political opinion in their districts is changing, you're seeing many Republican (and Democratic) legislators announce a change of heart when it comes to their previous position on HJR-6.
- INFLUENCE OF BIG BUSINESS: The leaders of many of the state's largest corporations, who usually support Republicans, have signed on as part of a coalition against HJR-6. While the business leaders' attempt to spin the issue as critical to economic development lacks in any statistical support, their presence in the debate gives Republicans cover if they choose to abandon their earlier support of the amendment.