By Bruce Parker
Despite recent victories in Illinois and Hawaii, homosexual advocates may have exhausted their supply of pro-”gay-marriage” states, as Indiana is set to support traditional marriage in January.
When the Indiana General Assembly convenes Jan. 6, state lawmakers will begin debate on whether to place a marriage amendment on the ballot for the November 2014 election.
As noted on the Indiana General Assembly website, House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR-6) proposes the following change to the state constitution: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall 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.”
Although same-sex marriage currently is prohibited by Indiana statute, marriage advocates seek to strengthen the statute by passing a constitutional amendment that can’t be overturned by state courts.
According to a recent poll by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, HJR-6, if placed on the November ballot, would pass with ease. The firm’s poll of likely voters found that 62 percent of Hoosiers would vote in favor of a traditional marriage amendment. Just 33 percent would oppose it.
Such numbers mirror actual results in other states. In 2012, voters in North Carolina approved Amendment 1 by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, despite LGBT-backed polls that predicted victory for “gay” advocates. In left-leaning California, citizens passed Proposition 8 by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
Given the sizable GOP majorities in the Indiana legislature, HJR-6 seems destined to appear on the November ballot. In 2011, the House pre-approved HJR-6 by a 70-26 vote; the Senate concurred by a vote of 40-10.
Despite the likelihood of passage, HJR-6 has opponents. LGBT forces led by Mary Cheney and Freedom Indiana have mounted a vigorous campaign against it. The campaign has garnered support from a dozen mayors, a few corporations and some university presidents.
Most support for Freedom Indiana, however, comes from outside the state. According to Freedom Indiana’s website, the campaign’s steering committee includes a who’s who of national “gay” rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, Margaret Hoover’s American Unity Fund, the ACLU and Freedom to Marry.
As expected, Indiana’s family associations and Catholic dioceses are lining up in favor of HJR-6. Led by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, Catholic bishops across the state released a Dec. 4 pastoral statement saying that marriage is “a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”
The statement closed with a plea for the people of Indiana to respect and defend “the truth about marriage.”
For their part, GOP leaders appear content to let the people decide. In public statements, Gov. Mike Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long have said that special interests should not decide marriage for the state.
In a Nov. 19 address to the House of Representatives, Speaker Bosma blasted the notion that interest groups, or even state judges, should decide an issue as important as marriage.
“That decision shouldn’t be made in a corporate boardroom, it shouldn’t be made in a judicial chamber, it shouldn’t be made in a university president’s office – and quite frankly, it shouldn’t be made in a single legislative leader’s office,” Bosma said.
Pence, in comments addressed to business stakeholders, dismissed the claim that a traditional marriage amendment would have a negative impact on business.
“Some of the fastest growing state economies in America have a traditional definition of marriage in their state constitution. I do not believe that this would be a barrier to job creation or growth,” Pence said in an interview with Channel 8 in Indianapolis. “We should just let Hoosiers decide.”
For certain, if the Wilson Perkins Allen poll is accurate, no amount of banging of pots and pans by special interests will change Hoosiers’ minds.
Since 1996, when President Clinton signed legislation affirming that marriage is a male-female enterprise, 34 states have passed laws defending the historical definition. A little more than a dozen have been willing to redefine marriage, and a number of those have come through judicial or executive fiat.
But the issue does not stop at same-sex marriage.
During the California Prop 8 fight, in which his fellow justices created same-sex marriage, California Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter focused on the other ramifications that should be considered.
He wrote: “The bans on incestuous and polygamous marriages are ancient and deeprooted, and, as the majority suggests, they are supported by strong considerations of social policy. … Our society abhors such relationships, and the notion that our laws could not forever prohibit them seems preposterous.
“Yet here, the majority overturns, in abrupt fashion, an initiative statute confirming the equally deeprooted assumption that marriage is a union of partners of the opposite sex. The majority does so by relying on its own assessment of contemporary community values, and by inserting in our Constitution an expanded definition of the right to marry that contravenes express statutory law.”
“Who can say that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority’s analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?”
Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey predicted the same thing.
The London Daily Mail reported Carey told Prime Minister David Cameron that an “equal marriage” proposal would have further consequences.
Carey pointed out some British lawmakers are recognizing that if they permit same-sex marriage, there would be no reason to bar two sisters from being married or multiple-partner arrangements.
“Once we let go of the exclusivity of a one-man, one-woman relationship with procreation linking the generations, then why stop there?” he said. “If it is about love and commitment, then it is entirely logical to extend marriage to two sisters bringing up children together. If it is merely about love and commitment, then there is nothing illogical about multiple relationships, such as two women and one man.”
Brazil, which started out by expanding marriage to same-sex duos nearly a decade ago, now has allowed three people in a polygamous relationship to have a civil union.
And in the United States only days ago, a federal judge found part of Utah’s ban on polygamy was in violation of the First Amendment.
In 2012, WND reported that Muslim men in America are marrying multiple wives. A Baltimore imam even declared, “We should strive to have it legalized because Allah has already legalized it.”
And after Canada redefined marriage to include same-sex duos in 2005, it saw a major legal case involving polygamy in 2011 brought by the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.
In May, polyamorous supporters in New Zealand called for legal recognition just weeks after same-sex marriage was legalized in the country.
In the Netherlands, the politician who brought same-sex marriage to the country said in March that “group marriage” was being discussed.
Bruce Parker is a freelance reporter and commentator specializing in state news and policy. He can be reached by email.