I attended the Judiciary Committee hearing on HJR0006, which is the proposed amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman...and does some other stuff as well. Those advocating for this amendment don't want we, the people, to pay attention to that second part, because it could have wide-ranging consequences to any unmarried couple in the state of Indiana. Representative Eric Turner does little more than say "Well, it won't" when questioned on how "Part B" of HJR0006 will affect domestic violence statutes, domestic partner benefits from public and private entities, and so on. As Doug Masson puts it, "Well, if Rep. Turner says so, I guess that means we can go ahead and ignore the actual text of the proposed amendment."
So let's do that and move on. While "Part B" is something I'm concerned with, I'm more concerned about the whole package.
So say you're a Republican committee chairman trying to get your bigoted resolution rushed through as quickly as possible. You know you're dealing with a group of citizens who've organized large demonstrations previously. So what do you do? Schedule the hearing for 10:30 on a Monday morning, coincidentally the week after snow hit central Indiana resulting in several business and school closings. Most people, after several days off of work and/or school, will have to get back as soon as possible. It just wasn't possible for a large group of citizens to make it here, and there were only about 30 people up in the public balcony area with me.
I found it quite ironic that several of the amendment's most fervent supporters, including Eric Miller of Advance America and Senator Brandt Hershman, have been married multiple times. I guess the definition of marriage can evolve to allow divorces for straight people, but no further than that.
The most entertaining testimony advocating for HJR06 came from Micah Clark, head of the American Family Association of Indiana. He suggested that re-defining marriage causes marriages to become less "super", and eventually meaningless. And then he threatened to abandon his wife and two kids if HJR06 wasn't added to the Constitution...at least, that's what I picked up from his testimony.
The best testimony from the opposition was from a gentleman who wasn't scheduled to speak, Patrick Roth. Roth's testimony would be perfect if it was for a debate on legalizing marriage equality. Unfortunately, that isn't the subject. The subject is to prevent discriminatory language appearing in our constitution.
I have to say, the outlook is bleak. The passage of HJR06 and it's Senate counterpart is all but inevitable. The only bright side to this is that a proposed constitutional amendment has to pass two separately elected legislative bodies.
It's time for members of the state who support marriage equality to remember that elections have consequences.
Advance Indiana and Doug Masson also weigh in.
UPDATE: I've been informed that a few members of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) were on the House floor near the back and encouraged Roth to speak. If you have a Facebook account, you can see Roth's speech here.