Last Wednesday, a coalition of civic and business groups announced the formation of “Freedom Indiana,” created to oppose the effort to constitutionalize Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Because the existence of a law banning such unions is evidently not emphatic enough.
The proposed constitutional amendment would also forbid legal recognition of any status “structurally similar” to marriage. There’s no agreement on what that language might mean beyond the obvious preclusion of civil unions.
I’ve written a lot about equal rights for GLBT folks, and the irrational fear and hostility exhibited by homophobic individuals and organizations. (Not to mention the outright lies in service of “Christian” principles by the likes of Eric Miller, who rely on the ignorance of their audiences when they insist that pastors will be forced to perform same-sex marriages if such unions are legally recognized.) There’s no point repeating here the principled arguments against this mean-spirited proposed Amendment. Most of the people who read this blog already know them.
More interesting than once again repeating the arguments for and against the ban is the question this current effort raises about Hoosier values.
Indiana is sometimes described as the buckle of the bible belt (or the middle finger of the South), but that has never been entirely true. The political culture of the state has had a strong libertarian streak–real libertarian, not Ron or Rand Paul libertarian. Hoosiers have endorsed “live and let live” as a workable philosophy to a much greater extent than the religio-political South. Results of the recent Ball State poll demonstrated the persistence of that approach; respondents were divided about same-sex marriage, but a comfortable majority was opposed to the ban.
There appears to be a consensus that the legislature will endorse this bit of culture-war detritus, and that a referendum will be held. There is less of a consensus on the results of that referendum.
When you consider both the Hoosier political culture and the rapid shift in attitude that has manifested itself across America on issues of gay rights, I think it is by no means certain that Hoosiers will endorse this insertion of discrimination in the State’s constitution.
A few years ago, when the Amendment was first introduced, the idea that major corporations would step up and oppose it would have been ludicrous. The likelihood that a Republican insider would run the “Nix on Six” campaign would have been unthinkable.
Actually, putting this measure on the ballot in 2014 puts the state GOP in something of a box. In an off-year election, without prominent candidates heading the ticket and getting out the vote, they run the risk that a “non-traditional” electorate focused upon defeating the ban will show up, and will vote for Democrats while they’re there.
If Freedom Indiana gets its voters to the polls, we could have a very interesting election.