“Clarifying” HJR3

The Indiana General Assembly has re-introduced the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage previously known as HJR6–it is now HJR3–and in an effort to blunt mounting criticisms of the measure’s “what the hell does that mean?” second sentence, they’ve introduced a “clarifying” companion statute.

As a number of lawyers have pointed out, the “clarification” is a legal non-starter: legislative bodies don’t get to tell judges how to interpret constitutional language, and efforts to do so raise substantial separation of powers issues. The lawyers serving in the Indiana General Assembly undoubtedly know how meaningless this legislation is, but then, its purpose was political, not legal.  HJR3’s second sentence is a disaster, and this is just a lame effort to obscure that fact.

Attempts at distraction aside, here’s what mystifies this recovering lawyer:

Over and over, its proponents insist that a state constitutional amendment is needed because Indiana’s current statute defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman isn’t strong enough. We’re told a constitutional amendment is needed to protect Indiana’s existing ban from “activist” judges.

This is utter horse poop. (I am trying to watch my language.)

In Indiana, “activist” state court judges have already upheld Indiana’s legislation banning same-sex marriages. So there is no threat from the state bench. And a state constitutional provision would be utterly useless should the U.S. Supreme Court affirm a right to marry. In such a case, a state constitutional measure would be just as unenforceable as the existing statute.

Let me spell this out slowly, for those crack legal minds (or was that legal minds on crack?) in the General Assembly: passage of HJR3 will not “protect” Indiana’s current ban on same-sex nuptials.

That isn’t to say that passage of HJR3 would be meaningless. It would do several things: send a signal that Indiana is a backward, intolerant state; invite lots of litigation inviting those “activist judges” to figure out what the hell the second sentence does or doesn’t mean; encourage members of Indiana’s creative class to consider relocation; and make it far more difficult for Hoosier businesses to recruit “the best and brightest.”

Those consequences are clear enough.


  1. What will rapidly become a dog and pony show will be the plethora of sponsored ads deploring same sex marriage. The Ads will be paid for by Koch brothers but you won’t know it. These ads will drown out Bridgegate. Americans are the easiest people to distract in the world. Not long ago, the cable companies arbitrarily added two dollars to your bill for some sport access. You got nohing for the $2.00. I didn’t hear one outrage and everyone paid it without a wimper. Just take a quarter million funds out of a community per month with absoslutely no return. That is brashness. Try to do that for a homeless fund. What is so strange is that these retards will actually think Bosma has valid points on the issue. I got this bridge………..

  2. The Indiana General Assembly must of course keep this issue before the public; making busy work by explaining, explaining the explanations, rewriting, claifying ad nauseum, pushing it through the sytem because they have nothing else of importance to do this session but fight same-sex marriage. They must appear to be busily working for those salaries keeping them feeding high on the hog while Indiana residents remain jobless, under employed, without unemployment compensation, proper education, loss of food stamps, competent health care, etc. Rather than keeping their aim on legally protecting state residents (they are the ones we need protection from), they have appointed themselves our religious leaders and medical advisors in their attempts to delude us into believing they are and should remain our vaulted leaders by protecting us from members of the LGBT members of our society. Let’s remember these issues at the polls.

  3. I’m sad our legislature is so civic illiterate that they’d even try such a “companion bill”. Or maybe I’m
    More sad that citizens might buy it?

  4. The Republicans and some Democrats have backed themselves against a wall in their attempts to appease the Bible Thumpers. It is a shame no one in our General Assembly will offer a counter- legislation to allow marriage of Civil Unions between two consenting adults to be recognized in this State.

  5. Rubes & boobs. Royko was right. Stupid is as Stupid does. Why on earth in 2014 do the right wing bible boobs have such power in our legislature? Is Indiana really that stupid? Looks that way. Sad.

  6. For the sake of discussion, I pose this question as an ‘advocatus diaboli’. In the event the same-sex marriage issue were placed before the voters, would the final tally of Hoosier voters reveal that we are an inclusive, open-minded welcoming group of folks or would the privacy of the voting booth provide Hoosiers an opportunity to express personal feelings they’d otherwise never articulate? Again, I’m playing the Devil’s advocate for the sake of discussion.

  7. Jay, don’t ask a question unless you are ready to deal with the answer. Better that people think one is an idiot than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

  8. Jay, I’d guess the tally would look a lot like our most recent general elections, with Marion, Monroe, and a handful of other counties in the progressive column and the rest of the state stuck in the 19th century, clinging to their biases and fears in the name of all that is good and pure and white and straight.

  9. Divorce and adultery (both of which are sins in the Bible) have done more to ruin the “sanctity of marriage” than an aircraft carrier full of gay semen seamen could ever hope to.

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