Friday, January 29, 2010

Indiana state Senate approves resolution for a super-DOMA amendment to the state constitution


WTVW FOX 7 reports tonight that the Indiana state Senate "voted 38-to-10 in favor of " S.J.R. 13. The resolution calls for an amendment that bans not only same-sex marriage, but same-sex relationships "substantially equivalent" to marriage. Similar resolutions are pending in the state House. (H.J.R. 5 and H.J.R. 7) According to, [t]he House has not granted a hearing to a (super-DOMA) amendment since 2007, when a committee deadlocked on sending it" to a floor vote.

01/29/10 update

(selected text):
The Indiana Senate revived a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages Thursday [SJR 13], approving the measure and sending it to the House, where it's likely to meet a quick death ... House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said the amendment is unlikely to receive a hearing this year, arguing the state's trial and appeals courts have upheld Indiana's marriage law [Morrison v. Sadler, 821 N.E.2d 15, 22 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005)]. Conservative activist Eric Miller, though, argued a court decision [Varnum v. Brien, 763 NW2d 862 (Iowa 2009)] last year in Iowa legalizing same-sex marriage should motivate Indiana lawmakers. "Indiana is in danger of same-sex marriages," said Miller, founder of the conservative group Advance America. "Iowa did not have a constitutional amendment. The same thing could happen here [unless voters have opportunity to adopt a constitutional ban.]"
"The proponents of SJR 13 know the next generation feels differently concerning these social and cultural matters," said Don Sherfick, a member of Indiana Equality Action, a group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers. "They think the right to express their changing views through the democratic process simply shouldn't count. We don't think that's representative government."
Sherfick appears to be saying that a constitutional amendment would prevent younger voters from electing legislators committed to repealing the state's statutory DOMA. But why would a marriage-equality proponent accept Miller's underlying premise - that voters should decide whether members of an unpopular minority have a right to marry? Perhaps Sherfick has conceded the political reality in Indiana of majority opposition to marriage equality. If his is a concession from expediency, he makes the most of it, even as he tries a logical jujitsu with the question-begging claim that democracy requires voters, not "activist judges," to determine whether same-sex couples may marry.


A legislator took objection to what makes the proposed amendment a "super-DOMA" amendment:
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, expressed concern that the second sentence in the amendment could affect domestic violence protections afforded to unmarried Hoosiers. That provision says a “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” “This certainly will not say welcome to many people in our society,” Lanane said.

01/21/10 Indiana Equality:

Indiana Equality describes the sweeping nature and anti-democratic effect of the proposed, super-DOMA amendment. I am new to the argument that a super-DOMA amendment suppresses representative democracy by preventing the state legislature from establishing substantive domestic partnerships.

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