News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

January 21, 2014

EDITORIAL: Speaker Bosma veers off course

Extraordinary action to save marriage ban

Indiana Speaker of House Brian Bosma is a smart, skilled and politically savvy legislative leader. One of the best, in fact.

But those skills are being tested like never before this year, which is saying a lot. This is the guy who navigated the treacherous waters of “right-to-work” and other high-profile issues, not to mention negotiating Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed personal tax cut last year with a Republican “super majority” that wasn’t exactly warm to it.

If you’re looking for a way to characterize Bosma’s relationship with a whole host of political forces this year, let’s just say, it’s complicated.

Front and center is the increasingly sticky situation with the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, known officially as HJR-3. As the public’s attitude toward the issue has moved away from placing such a ban into the constitution, Bosma has remained a stalwart supporter, as is the governor, even though both sometimes have tried to pretend that it’s not that big of a deal to them. It clearly is, and they aren’t hiding it any longer.

Bosma’s difficult position became magnified last week when the House Judiciary Committee did not vote on the amendment. The reason it didn’t move it to the full House? Because the committee chair didn’t have the votes, meaning at least three crucial Republican members were either opposed or undecided. Rather than risk having the ban killed in spectacular fashion, the chair ended the meeting without calling for a vote.

A new meeting was never set, which indicated the GOP, with Bosma at its leader, did not have the votes in its own caucus to advance the ban out of committee.

The conflict inside the Republican “super majority” has now caused Bosma to retreat on any hands-off approach he originally proclaimed.

On Tuesday, he took the issue out of Judiciary and moved it to friendlier ground — the House Elections and Apportionment Committee — where more staunch conservatives rule.

While disappointing, this is no surprise. Bosma had acknowledged his commitment to the measure and said publicly he was considering more aggressive options to move it forward, including replacing his own caucus members on the Judiciary Committee who are stalling the bill’s advancement, or moving it to another committee.

While we understand Bosma’s position and have a great deal of respect for him as a legislative leader, we regret that he chose to take this extraordinary step and subvert the initial process, even though it is within his discretion.

As speaker of the House, Bosma’s decisions and actions should be bigger than politics, and this would have been a good time for him to acknowledge that a same-sex marriage ban in Indiana’s constitution is not a good idea for this state and definitely not what most Hoosiers want, despite his personal view.

At its core, the measure would enshrine discrimination against fellow Hoosiers and create a sub-class of citizens that are denied their constitutional rights as Americans.

It is unfortunate that Bosma has taken such a drastic course.

 

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