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A bad start
“I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all of the people of our state.”
– Gov. Mike Pence, in a statement released Thursday
Comments posted on the governor’s Facebook page in response to the statement:
“Once again a small whiney minority (Is sexual orientation a minority?) gets its way because of a lack of principle on the decision makers. I think you have to constantly look for approval from the hetero’s because deep down you realize your abnormal!”
“Pence is a bigot? Not surprised…maybe he will move when Indiana voters prove to him that we don’t share his views...”
“When society is allowed to redefine a word to match it’s depravity, we are in sad shape as a nation.”
“Man people are naive I wish I were a religious nut so I could put my horse blinders on.”
Dan Wasserman l Boston Globe

‘Civility and respect’

Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

– Indiana House Joint Resolution 6

Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings on gay rights kick-started the battle over Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

Some words of caution before it escalates and causes great harm:

Stop. Think. Listen. Show respect.

House Joint Resolution 6 was approved by the General Assembly in 2011 as the first step in the process to narrow the definition of marriage and prohibit civil unions. If it is approved in the next session, by a separately elected group of lawmakers, it will go to a statewide referendum in November 2014.

The Republican majority could easily have passed the measure this past session but held off in anticipation of the court’s ruling. Within hours of the decision state leaders indicated they will proceed.

“I fully anticipate that both the Senate and House will be voting on a marriage amendment next session,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

“I am confident the matter will come before the General Assembly and ultimately be placed on a referenda ballot for voter consideration,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

Gov. Mike Pence expressed his support for the amendment in a statement – along with a call for “civility and respect” – that touched off an anything-but-civil discussion on his office’s Facebook page.

The angry messages – from both supporters and opponents of gay marriage – are very likely a preview of what’s to come if lawmakers insist on moving ahead with the divisive resolution.

Allowing voters to decide might seem like the best approach, but the GOP majority has had no problem making the call on other controversial measures, including school vouchers and the right-to-work law. Nor did it hesitate to pass the current law defining marriage.

Legislators should be prepared for the referendum process itself to draw unwelcome attention to the state and to harm companies that depend on a wide and diverse hiring pool. Columbus-based Cummins Inc. issued a statement praising the Supreme Court decision.

“Doing things the right way and embracing diversity are core Cummins values,” said Sharon Barner, vice president and general counsel for the engine-maker. “We have a long and rich history of supporting civil rights issues and often Cummins has been a strong corporate voice on those issues. … Cummins believes that treating all people fairly and equally is the right thing to do and we are pleased to support the rights and liberties of all our employees.”

Finally, there’s the question of whether Indiana’s proposed amendment would violate the U.S. Constitution. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed briefs in support of the losing arguments in the Supreme Court cases and said he was reviewing the decisions before advising state lawmakers. Taxpayers should prepare to bear the cost of a long and expensive battle to defend a constitutional ban, which inevitably will be challenged, given that a same-sex marriage law already is on the books.

But Zoeller made a point that opponents and supporters alike should heed.

“I recognize that people have strongly held and vastly different views on the issue of marriage and ask that everyone show respect with civility to our Supreme Court and our constitutional system,” he said. “Regardless of the different views people may hold, marriage should be a source of unity and not division.”