At what point does a seemingly prominent social issue lose steam and become an outdated morality?
Many Hoosiers can point to last week when they heard of another forthcoming round in the state GOP’s push for an Indiana constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Last week, a poll was released by gay marriage proponents indicating that voters are split on the issue. The group, Freedom Indiana, reported that 46 percent of voters – perhaps even 54 percent – are opposed to the amendment, depending on how the question was worded. Freedom Indiana also claimed that two-thirds of those answering its survey said a constitutional amendment was the wrong way to address the issue.
The poll was released on the same day that House and Senate Republicans met in private caucus to discuss the amendment among other issues facing the General Assembly this session. The proposed amendment would, by most descriptions, ban civil unions as well as gay marriage; the latter is already banned by state law.
Social issues should generally not waste the time of the Legislature, and certainly should not be the subject of constitutional amendments — even though it would face a statewide vote in 2014.
Granted, the rights of gays and lesbians can be equated to the rights of Indiana’s poor, immigrants or minorities in that their dignity must be upheld in the eyes of the law. That equality eventually filters down to the populace. That is why the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling is so critical — the court struck down the federal “Defense of Marriage Act,” which said that when a gay couple was legally married under a state law, the federal government had to treat them as unmarried and deny them benefits given to other married individuals. Under the 14th Amendment, the court ruled, equal protection must be given to same-sex couples.