News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 6, 2014

Editorial: Nothing good about HJR-3

Killing this proposal the only acceptable outcome

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Monday marks the day when the Indiana Senate takes up the issue of placing a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution. The Senate’s Rules Committee will begin hearing testimony on HJR-3 from those for and against sometime during the afternoon.

The hearing will be different from the ones conducted in the House in January. The proposed constitutional amendment was changed in the House to delete a portion of the original, the so-called second sentence that would outlaw domestic partnerships and civil unions. The proposal now only defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

There is a movement afoot, driven in part by the vocal support of Gov. Mike Pence, to convince the Senate to reinstate the second sentence, but Senate President David Long made it clear he won’t entertain changes to the House version until it reaches the full Senate.

While there is considerable debate surrounding the second sentence and whether it should be reinstated, it’s not really a debate that interests us. Deleting the second sentence may make the measure a bit less offensive and objectionable, but in no way does it make it tolerable. The only real benefit of the deletion is that it would force the amending process to start over, meaning the amendment would not go to the voters until 2016 at the earliest if the Legislature passes it in two consecutive sessions.

Admittedly, it would be better to delay a public vote a couple more years and allow the evolution of public opinion to continue to drift away from placing a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s most important legal document.

Still, there is nothing good about this proposed amendment in any form. First sentence. Second sentence. Any sentence. It is unacceptable. Enshrining discrimination against fellow Hoosiers based on sexual orientation contradicts the values of a country where freedom and equality are fundamental tenets.

Not only should the Indiana Senate not reinstate the ban on domestic partnerships and civil unions, it should kill the amendment outright. That is truly the only appropriate outcome.