Tag Archives: HJR 3

How Sweet It Is….

Yesterday, the Indiana State Senate voted for the version of HJR 3 that previously passed the House–a version without the legally ambiguous second sentence.

Because a constitutional amendment must pass two consecutive legislative sessions with identical language, the vote will keep the measure off the 2014 ballot. If the single-sentence version passes the next legislature, that version will go on the 2016 ballot.

If I were a betting woman (and I’m not, because I’m wrong about nearly everything), I’d wager we’ve seen the last of this retrograde effort to let “the gays” know that they just aren’t worthy of that pesky “equal protection of the laws” thing. By 2016, even the “God told me my marriage will be worthless if you get to have one too” folks will recognize that this battle is over. 

If I may, I’d like to share a few reflections on the campaign that has now (mercifully) ended:

  • Megan Robertson is awesome. The campaign she directed was brilliant, bipartisan and virtually flawless. (It’s almost enough to make me forgive her for Greg Ballard.) We will hear more from and about this young woman.
  • The GLBT community demonstrated its maturity and civility. When I first became involved in working on gay rights issues, some twenty years ago, it could be very frustrating. There were factions and “hissy fits” and unhelpful public behaviors. Those behaviors were nowhere to be seen this time around. The community was unified, dignified and focused, laser-like, on what needed to be done. GLBT folks shared their stories, made their case, and stood up for their rights as citizens, as taxpayers and as Americans.
  • The so-called “allies”–PFLAG moms and dads, pastors of welcoming churches, business leaders, bloggers and editorial writers, and hundreds of Hoosiers who just care about fundamental fairness and decency–shook off their usual apathy and made their opinions known. They swarmed the Statehouse, they wrote letters to the editor, they volunteered at phone banks, and they wrote checks.

And the democratic process worked the way it is supposed to.

In a bright-red state not noted for progressive policies, in a Statehouse dominated by Republicans accustomed to doing the will of their rabidly conservative base, the good guys actually won.

As my husband likes to say, campaigns matter.

I’ll drink to that.

Three Cheers for the Indianapolis Bar Association!

A couple of days ago, right before the Indiana House voted to strip the second sentence from HJR 3, the Indianapolis Bar Association did something it almost never does: it took a public position on a contentious policy issue.

Saying the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage “stands out as inappropriate” and would likely lead to “years of litigation and significant expense for individual citizens and Indiana businesses,” the Indianapolis Bar Association today announced its formal opposition to HJR-3, the bill that would send the controversial amendment to a voter referendum.

The Bar Association took this position only after surveying its entire membership–another unusual step. (It has been some 20 years since they last did so.) Tellingly, three quarters of those surveyed favored taking a public position against HJR 3, and another twenty percent wanted to stay out of the issue. Only 5% favored the measure.

I have to believe that the willingness of the Bar Association to speak out–coming after the steady parade of businesses, mayors, and religious leaders–helped turn the tide with respect to HJR 3’s second sentence. That provision was a mess, an invitation to litigation, and many activists and bloggers had said so. But individual opinions on its legality and effects don’t carry the weight of the organized Bar, which is why their willingness to speak out was so important.

HJR 3 isn’t dead yet. At best, this latest vote to amend its language “kicks the can” down the road for another couple of years. Given the speed with which attitudes on same-sex marriage are changing, however, even that is no small matter.

Three cheers, Indianapolis Bar Association! Welcome to the good fight– and thanks for reminding all of us that “showing up” matters.

Church and State

Here in Indiana, we’re used to religious warfare. We aren’t called the buckle of the bible belt for nothing.

Those battles generally pit people who understand religious liberty to require state neutrality in matters of belief against folks who want government to make everyone live in accordance with the “correct” beliefs (which just happen to be theirs).

That, in a nutshell (no pun intended) is what the current fight about HJR 3 is all about. Proponents can pontificate all they want about what’s best for children or society, but opposition to same-sex marriage (and the desire to send a message to GLBT folks that they really aren’t welcome here) is entirely based upon religious dogma.

Given the visibility and mean-spiritedness of so many self-identified “Godly” people, we sometimes forget that plenty of religious believers “get it.” They not only understand their God to require love and inclusion, but they also–importantly–recognize the threat to authentic belief posed by those who would use government to impose their doctrines on others.

Matt Boulton is President of Christian Theological Seminary. He testified at the legislative hearing against HJR 3, and although he made many other good points, his compelling closing observation deserves to be widely shared:

Now, my position as president of CTS puts me in relationship with a dazzling variety of Indiana religions and denominations and congregations and theological points of view.  Indeed, questions of human sexuality are matters of passionate debate within Christian circles; we have a good dose of that diversity at CTS.

 You’ll hear later today from the other side that civil unions would threaten the “traditional view of marriage” allegedly demanded by Christian faith, and so on.  I respect that perspective, even as I disagree with it.  But here’s the point I want to underline:  despite what those on the other side may say, there is no one Christian view of HJR-3.  Many Christians, even those who disagree on the underlying human sexuality issues, oppose HJR-3 because their Christian faith calls them to be open, hospitable, fair, and loving toward their neighbors.  And the role of the State, we respectfully suggest, is not to take sides in this theological debate, much less enshrine one side or the other in the Indiana state constitution.  Rather, the State’s role is to respect the religious diversity of our community on this question, and to allow freedom of religion – faith’s freedom – to flourish in Indiana by setting aside HJR-3 once and for all. (Emphasis supplied)

And let us all say, “Amen.”