Sunday (Constitutional) Sermon

A couple of days ago, the Indianapolis Star reported that a lawsuit had been filed by same-sex couples seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.

The usual suspects said the usual things.

 “For years we have warned legislators and policy leaders that homosexual activists were seeking to force a new definition of marriage upon every church, school and business in Indiana,” Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana said in a statement.

“Today, a lawsuit has been filed in the Southern federal court district of Indiana to overturn our laws that recognize marriage as not just any relationship, but as the special union of a man and a woman which benefits children and society like no other. We knew this would happen when the legislature sent the signal that it would not protect our laws with the final passage of the Marriage Protection Amendment this year. This issue now rests in the hands of unelected judges, just as a majority of our legislators wanted, rather than letting the people of Indiana decide the future of marriage.”

State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, a staunch supporter of Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, immediately took to Twitter to criticize the lawsuit.

“We knew this day was coming,” he said. “Our federal court system has evolved into the forum of choice for liberal activism.”

Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, another supporter of the constitutional amendment, said lawmakers have “denied the people of Indiana the right to preserve marriage and handed an invitation to our opponents to go ahead and knock marriage out before Hoosiers can vote on it in 2016.”

Same old, same old.

My question is: where the hell was the reporter? By acting simply as a transcriber—by simply quoting the hysterics of these reliable homophobes without question or comment—the reporter left readers who don’t know better (and let’s face it, that’s a lot of them!) with the distinct impression that passage of HJR 3 would have averted this lawsuit and/or its outcome.

Not so.

Let’s try this one more time: the federal constitution (you know, the one these guys all claim to revere) trumps state law. Even state constitutional law. If and when the courts decide that the U.S. Constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriages, a contrary provision in the Indiana Constitution will be rendered null and void. Hoosiers can vote until the cows come home—if same-sex marriage is entitled to Equal Protection of the Laws, their votes can’t change that. The Bill of Rights is a counter-majoritarian document; it protects fundamental rights against efforts by majorities to deny those rights to unpopular or disfavored individuals or minorities.

Indiana citizens can’t vote on my reading materials. They don’t get to choose my religion, my friends or my politics. They can’t vote to deprive me of the right to a jury trial if I’m arrested, and they don’t get to vote to allow police to stop and search me without probable cause. Since 1967 (when those “activist” judges recognized that citizens of all colors came within the Bill of Rights’ protection) popular majorities haven’t been able to vote on whether a white person can marry a black one.

Micah Clark, Curt Smith and their ilk may be too blinded by their animus to GLBT folks to understand this basic element of our constitutional jurisprudence, but there is no excuse for the Star reporter.


  1. We can always count on the Star (& Jim Shella on WISH)) to go to the wacko right wing repubs to educate us on their feeling. Don’t bother with facts.
    What is the right wingnut position on this issue?
    It would be like going to the KKK to get their take on Black History Month.
    Sad but totally predictable

  2. I have noticed this lack of persistence in many alleged reporters in the last few years. Transcriber is a more appropriate term. Some reporters apparently think that, as long as they give both sides the opportunity to make their points, no matter how specious, false or incendiary, they have fulfilled their role. Wrong. How about questioning an obviously false assertion? Pushing to find the logic — or expose the lack of it — in an argument? Calling these people who claim to want freedom from government on why they think they should tell others how to live?

  3. The flaw in your thinking, Sheila, is believing the reporter understands constitutional law better than Delph & Co.

  4. My question is: where the hell was the reporter? The Star has been for long time a “Cut and Paste Press Release” paper. The Bible Thumpers want Judges Appointed or Elected that reflect their views, even if it results in tyranny by the majority. The Star IMHO treats these Professional Fund Raising Bible Thumpers with kid gloves.

  5. This is the product of the increasing intrusion of organized religion into the legislative process. Our state representatives should be ashamed of themselves, but they’re not. There are only a handful of Indiana legislators who have the courage to speak to this tyranny.

  6. I think the real question is, if Mike Delph and company haven’t bothered to educate themselves enough to at least understand this basic bit on how the constitution works, what the hell are they doing in the statehouse? How about we create a test that congressmen have to take before they can serve in the statehouse – “Minimum Constitutional Standards and Understanding of legal systems necessary to serve in the Indiana Statehouse”.

  7. The cut and paste media is out of control. Once upon a time newspaper editors would issue retractions or corrections. Not anymore. In Indiana this especially surfaces with any emotional issue: LGBT, religion, etc. Last week it was the IRS and taxes- alarming us that IN won’t recognize federal benefits – leaving facts out of the stories that get picked up and then they’re off and running. Indiana legislators cannot deny same sex married couples federal benefits- married couples must file federal taxes as married- even if the state they reside does not recognize the marriage.

  8. It may be time for the atheists among us to come out of the closet and make it clear that we are committed to civil and secular humanist rights.

Comments are closed.