By Scott Tibbs, April 5, 2007
Four Republicans and a Democrat voted for the amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would forbid the state from recognizing homosexual marriage. Five Democrats, however, voted against the amendment. Since the vote was a 5-5 tie, the amendment is dead for now. Those five Democrats are Bob Kuzman, Earl Harris, Russ Stilwell, Scott Pelath and Terri Austin.
It cannot be overemphasized how undemocratic those five votes were. Those five Democrats prevented an up-or-down vote by the full 100-member House of Representatives, and may also prevent the people of Indiana from having their say on the issue in the 2008 election. Kuzman, Harris, Stilwell, Pelath and Austin showed that they do not trust their colleagues to vote it down, nor do they have faith that the people of Indiana will reject the proposed amendment.
Opponents of the legislation, such as Steve Sanders, are arguing that this is some kind of a victory for the cause of getting state government to recognize homosexual marriage. It is anything but. The amendment, which would likely have passed the House and then been approved by the voters in the 2008 general election, was defeated on the strength of five votes. If anything, this proves that those five Democrats knew that they are not with the majority of Hoosiers.
This amendment would not prohibit universities or private employers from giving domestic partner benefits. The controversial second sentence states that “This Constitution or any other Indiana law many not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” It does not ban a company from voluntarily offering domestic partner benefits. That was a smokescreen to give political cover to a position that is out of the mainstream.
House Speaker Pat Bauer promised to allow a vote on the Amendment. Now we will see if Bauer was telling the truth. Will he keep his promise and find another way to get the amendment to the House floor, or will he cave to political pressure and let it die? Hoosier voters are waiting for an answer, and Bauer has to know that his answer will impact future bids for higher office.