[r32] Marriage Is Still Worth Defining, Defending (2/21/2009)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Start Date: 2/21/2009 All Day
End Date: 2/21/2009
STATEHOUSE (Feb. 21, 2009) - Back in the first days of this General Assembly session, I introduced an amendment to the Indiana Constitution defining and defending marriage.
I hoped the House would be allowed to debate and vote on the amendment, and I was confident that, if we did get that opportunity, the amendment would pass with strong bipartisan support.

We did not get the chance, and the amendment's chances for this session appear doomed. Technically, there is a chance it could be heard, but I do not count on it happening.

The deadline for committees to pass bills and resolutions was Feb. 19, and no action was taken on House Joint Resolution 8. It died in the House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee.

The same fate happened to an identical resolution filed in the Indiana Senate.

This is disappointing, but it is neither disheartening nor a deterrent because honoring the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman is the right thing to do and steadfastly in line with Hoosier values.

The language of the proposed amendment is simple:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman should 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."

This language has withstood challenges from groups and individuals, including activist judges, opposed to the concept of one-man-one-woman marriage. We must turn to the constitution to reinforce the will of the people and protect the sanctity of marriage that most Hoosiers value.

Indiana has a statute defining marriage. Indiana Code 31-11-1-1 reads: "(a) Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female. (b) A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized."

But several courts around the U.S. are trying to strike down state statutes on marriage, and this puts our statute at risk.

Thirty states - representing 64 percent of the nation's population - have marriage-defining amendments in their state constitutions. My amendment mirrors the language of the Kentucky and Wisconsin amendments. California, Arizona, and Florida are the latest states to adopt constitutional amendments on marriage. Their voters approved the amendments in the November 2008 election.

The idea has had support in the General Assembly. The Indiana General Assembly first considered a marriage amendment in 2004. The state Senate passed it 39-10, but it failed in the House.  Both the Senate (42-8) and the House (76-23) approved the amendment in 2005. The Senate passed the same amendment in 2007 (39-10) and 2008 (39-9), but it failed to succeed in the House.

Despite what happened - or, rather, didn't happen - in the General Assembly this session, my belief in the rightness of this amendment and what it stands for is as strong as ever.