Monday, January 25, 2010

IN Touch: A Threat to Our Rights

My thirteenth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As I've said previously, I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.
On Jan. 20, the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee considered SJR 13, which would amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and prohibit the General Assembly from legislating civil unions in the future.

Proponents of SJR 13 talked about the need to "protect" marriage and spoke about "threats" to traditional marriage. Yet neither the sponsor of SJR 13 nor any of its proponents identified those threats from which marriage must be protected. Not one of them even tried to explain how failure to amend the Constitution would have a negative impact on their marriages or families. Not one of them explained how failure to amend the Constitution would solve crises faced by Indiana, such as taxes, budget shortfalls, education, decaying infrastructure, crime and poverty. Yet they were all so concerned by this phantom threat that they want to amend not just the Constitution but the Bill of Rights.

Take a few minutes and read the Indiana Constitution (while most of us are familiar with the U.S. Constitution, how many can honestly say they are familiar with Indiana's Constitution?), in particular Article I (the Bill of Rights). Our constitution (especially the Bill of Rights) largely focuses on either the structure of government or the rights granted to Hoosiers. Do we really want to start amending our Bill of Rights with provisions that serve to restrict, rather than enhance, those rights? Do we really want to amend our constitution now in order to make it harder for future generations of Hoosiers to enact laws that extend rights?

The current issue is not whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in Indiana; it is already prohibited by state law. The question is whether we, as a people, are so threatened by the possibility of same-sex marriage that we are willing to amend our constitution to address that perceived yet unidentified threat, and whether we want our Bill of Rights to restrict rather than grant rights.

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