IN Seeks Constitutional Ban for Same-Sex Marriage
As all Indiana residents know, we currently live in a futuristic golden age in which all crime and poverty in the Hoosier state has been eradicated; cars run on a combination of solar power and discarded Peyton Manning Colts jerseys while solid gold iPads are handed out to the populace on a daily basis.
Faced with little else to do besides disbanding, the Indiana legislature decided to take up the last remaining controversial issue of our time: Gay marriage. And despite increasing public support for same-sex marriage, many of our elected leaders have decided to take the position of banning it once and for all from the corn fields of Indiana with an amendment to the state’s constitution, currently winding its way through the legislature under the name House Joint Resolution-3.
There are however still a few sensible people left in the Hoosier state who believe that gay marriage isn’t something the state legislature should meddle in.
Among those people is Annie Whaley, a second year law student from Valparaiso University who testified against Indiana’s planned constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage last week.
Whaley, a life-long Hoosier, was invited to testify in Indianapolis by Freedom Indiana, which describes itself as “a statewide bipartisan coalition of businesses, faith leaders, civil rights and community organizations, and individuals united to defeat HJR-3.” -Freedom Indiana Website
Whaley said the group’s invitation surprised her, especially coming just a few hours before the House Elections Committee was scheduled to hear testimony on House Joint Resolution 3 on Jan. 22. But Whaley rose to the occasion, telling committee members about the discrimination she experienced while dating another woman, and how her gay and lesbian friends fear going to church because of the judgment of others.
While many who speak out against gay marriage say their religion mandates opposition to it, Whaley emphasized that her support of gay marriage is based in her Christian faith.
“This may sound strange due to me being a law student, but you would be amazed what God shows us if we look to him for answers first,” Whaley testified. “…He has given us the ability to love unconditionally in His name, so stop worrying and stop controlling every part of the world around you. In the end, we are obligated to provide and to love each other equally, and let God do the judging.”
After returning to Valparaiso, Whaley, who now identifies as a straight ally, said she does not believe same-sex marriage should be determined by the courts or the legislature and just hopes people will be more accepting of each other’s differences.
“Every argument almost seems like we are not talking about people,” she said. “…It really is not our place to try and control other people in this fashion and bar them from rights we have so easily obtained.”
Whaley, who is an executive board member of several groups at the law school, is organizing an equality panel to discuss discrimination in the workplace next month at Valpo.
The hearing Whaley testified at was mostly for show, and as expected, the Republican-controlled House Elections Committee voted 6-3 in favor of moving HJR-3 to the full House for a vote. The resolution was initially assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where it was expected to be quietly and mercifully killed by Democrats. Republicans have come under fire for moving the resolution to the Elections Committee.
On Tuesday, the House voted 57-40 in favor of an amended version of HJR-3 which would ban only same-sex marriage, but not civil unions. -Indianapolis Star article-Legislature Vote The amended resolution now must pass the Senate, and because the House removed the language banning civil unions, it will be at least 2016 before the amendment goes to a referendum. Even then, HJR-3 will again have to pass next year’s General Assembly.
The version of HJR-3 passed by the House Tuesday states “that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.”
Lost in most of the coverage of the amendment is that Ind. Code 31-11-1-1 already bans same-sex marriage. The law states “(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.”
Proponents of the amendment say the state’s constitution must be amended so that a judge doesn’t overturn the law. These fears seem somewhat unfounded as Indiana’s gay marriage law has only been cited in cases 17 times since it was passed in 1997, according to Westlaw. And only about half of those cases were even decided by Indiana courts.
The Indianapolis Bar Association has also taken the rare step of denouncing the amendment as an “inappropriate” addition to the state constitution that will likely lead to years of expensive, unnecessary litigation. -Indianapolis Star Article- IBA opposition to HJR-3
Basically this is an amendment that will do more harm than good in more respects than just barring same-sex couples from legal recognition.
Chris Freiberg is a 2015 J.D. Candidate at Valpariaiso University School of Law, and a former
reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.