News and Tribune

Opinions

December 26, 2012

THEIR OPINION: Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers

Why is embassy safety responsibility of State Department?

Some of the U.S. officials involved in protecting our diplomats in Libya apparently believed that the United States was basking in the revolutionary glow of the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

That glow turned into a raging inferno of violence Sept. 11 that claimed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

An independent panel blamed the deaths on poor security preparations, a lack of trained personnel at the Benghazi consulate and a reliance on Libyan militias to provide security.

Four State Department officials were removed or resigned, including the head of security.

The bigger question is whether the State Department, whose culture is one of openness and engagement, should even be responsible for protecting Americans abroad.

Is the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, with 34,000 employees protecting 275 missions around the world, miscast in a role that could be led by the military?

For now, State Department officials want more money and promise to do a better job on security. The Pentagon is not likely to volunteer for a new mission of protecting embassies when it is trying to draw down forces from overseas.

The protection of American diplomats is only likely to become more difficult, however. Our diplomats should be focused on carrying out U.S. policy by being deeply engaged in the countries where they are based.

Somebody has to have their backs.

— Evansville Courier & Press

No need to amend Indiana’s constitution

Hoosier voters could vote in 2014 on a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. The Indiana General Assembly should prevent this vote from happening.

Indiana law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The debate is on whether to spell this out in the Indiana Constitution to make the law more difficult to reverse.

Public opinion on gay marriage has evolved rapidly in recent years.

Let the debate over same-sex marriage continue, weighing the pros and cons of legalization and of continuing Indiana’s current ban.

The Howey/DePauw Battleground Poll, conducted just before the Nov. 6 election, found Hoosiers are almost evenly split on the constitutional amendment. The poll was cosponsored by The Times Media Company.

A Nov. 12-24 Ball State University poll found 54 percent of Hoosiers opposed the constitutional amendment, compared with 38 percent who support it.

Nationally, 48 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage while 43 percent oppose it, according to the results of Pew Research Centers polls released this year.

Lame duck Gov. Mitch Daniels said recently he wouldn’t comment on the proposed constitutional amendment but that a family headed by a same-sex couple “sure beats single parenthood.”

Daniels is the Republican fiscal conservative who famously urged the GOP to declare a social truce and focus on fiscal issues.

His successor, Gov.-elect Mike Pence, has been a strong opponent of same-sex marriage but said he would defer to the leaders in the General Assembly on that issue. “Now is the time for Hoosiers to focus on getting this economy moving,” Pence said.

To put this issue before the voters in 2014, the General Assembly would have to vote in favor of the constitutional amendment in either 2013 or 2014.

Even as Indiana’s constitutional amendment is being considered, though, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Dec. 7 to review two cases related to same-sex marriage. The court’s ruling could affect Indiana’s existing law.

Even if it doesn’t, constitutional amendments should be rare. This is not one of those exceptions. There’s no need to amend the Constitution to accomplish what state law already provides.

— The Times, Munster

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