News and Tribune

July 12, 2013

NASH: Gay marriage in Indiana

By MATTHEW NASH
Local columnist

A couple of weeks ago the United States Supreme Court handed down a couple of significant decisions that changed the course of gay marriage in America. The first decision struck down key elements of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law blocking the federal recognition of gay marriage. By declining to render a decision in a California case they allowed gay marriage to resume in that state. Across the country gay Americans saw this as a turning point in their battle for equal rights.

Back home in Indiana, our governor took his message to Facebook to issue his official statement on the matter and to announce his displeasure of the Supreme Court’s decision. He also called on the Indiana Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to consider next year.  

The governor’s Facebook page was quickly inundated with comments both pro and con concerning his position on gay marriage. Soon some of the comments that disagreed with the governor’s position were removed. At first they were said to be removed due to abusive language or inflammatory comments, this was quickly proven to be untrue.  

Members of his staff were found to have removed comments that essentially just disagreed with the governor. He later apologized for his staff and offered to review the policy concerning the standard of conduct as it relates to social media. He concluded his comments by announcing:

“Hoosiers expect our public debate to be open and respectful and we will ever seek to live up to that standard. In agreement or disagreement, I respect the opinions and the freedoms of all the people of Indiana.”

For someone that respects the freedoms of all of the people of Indiana he has an interesting way of showing it. The Indiana Constitution should be used to preserve the rights of all the citizens of our state, not to limit those rights. Considering adding an amendment to our constitution that eliminates the rights of any citizen of our state is repugnant. The citizens of Indiana deserve better than that from the people we have elected to lead us.

Currently there are 11 states that allow same sex marriage. Two more states have legalized it recently and the law will take effect on Aug. 1. Prior to 2004 same sex marriage was not allowed in any U.S. jurisdiction. It seems that the tide is turning as more people have been accepting of the practice of same sex marriage. Why is Indiana different?

Opponents of same sex marriage claim that you cannot change the definition of “traditional marriage.” Most people who oppose gay marriage do so on religious grounds. They believe that marriage is recognized by God and sanctioned by the church. If the government does not recognize or endorse any religion, why would they consider the law on these grounds? 

Some religious denominations have come out in favor of same sex marriage over the last several years. What about those who do not worship at all? In a country that prides itself on religious freedoms, why should they be held to the rules of someone else’s God?  

Some people have said that allowing members of the same gender to marry would lead to anybody being able to marry anything. Polygamy and bestiality have been listed as some of the next possible steps down that “slippery slope.” Statements like these are ludicrous and offensive and should not be tolerated.

It is already illegal for same sex couples to marry in the State of Indiana. I have no doubt that next year the Indiana Legislature will follow Gov. Pence’s orders and place the Constitutional Amendment on the ballot. What if along with the Constitutional amendment question on the ballot they also added a ballot initiative legalizing gay marriage in our state? I think if given the chance the citizens of Indiana will do what is right.

Over the next several months the gay marriage debate will rage on across our country. It looks like Hoosiers will get their chance to decide in November of next year. Millions of dollars will more than likely be spent on each side of the campaign, much of it coming from sources outside of our state. Will the voters of our state stand up for the rights of citizens or will we succumb to the bigotry and prejudice that has divided us for so many years?

–Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com