For months now guest editorials on this page have consistently denounced efforts by Indiana Statehouse Republicans to approve an amendment to the state’s Constitution banning gay marriage and other unions similar to it. Now deemed House Joint Resolution No. 3, the proposed Indiana constitutional amendment was passed by both the House and Senate in 2013. If passed by both houses during this short session, the question would be put to a statewide referendum. If ratified by a majority of voters, the bill would become Article 1, Section 38 of Indiana’s Constitution.
Two of HJR-3’s co-authors represent portions of our readership — Republicans Wes Culver of Goshen and Tim Wesco of Osceola. The other two co-authors are Republicans Eric Turner of Cicero and Rhonda Rhodes of Corydon.
Here’s the synopsis of the bill: Provides that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
On Monday the House Judiciary Committee met for roughly four hours in the House chambers, hearing emotional testimony both for and against HJR-3. The committee adjourned without taking a vote and it is not known when it will reconvene.
SO NOW WE ADD our masthead to those who oppose this bill. Our hope is that the Republican super majority in the Statehouse will reject HJR-3, which we see as an unnecessary assault against human dignity. This bill is not for the betterment of our fine state. It is a power play against the evolving sentiment and tolerance toward homosexuals and their ability to live their lives within the same rights as anybody else.
Chambers of Commerce and big Indiana businesses have also come out against the constitutional ban. For a Republican Party that preached a “business friendly” philosophy during the “Right To Work” debate in previous years, this seems contrary to that proclamation — Businesses welcome, gay owners, executives or employees not welcome.
In his State of the State address last week, Gov. Mike Pence re-affirmed his support of HJR-3 by saying he believes in traditional marriage. He went on to say that no one, on either side of the debate, “Deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe.”
HE’S RIGHT, but “disparage” and “malign” is exactly what HJR-3 proposes with its constitutional ban. “Disparage” means to regard or represent as being of little worth. “Malign” means evil in nature or effect, malevolent. Both of those words flow mightily in the undercurrent of this legal language.
Heterosexuals and homosexuals coexist every day. They work together, pick through the same produce at the grocery store, attend family dinners together and even worship in the same pews together. For a state to spell out an insensitive and inaccurate inferiority either way is wrong in our eyes.
If HJR-3 ends up being inked into Indiana’s defining document, it will only serve to increase the divide between otherwise largely agreeable human parties. And eventually, years down the road — maybe not many — Hoosiers will come to see HJR-3 as the black mark of discrimination it actually is, an outdated tattoo we will long regret.