January 24, 2014

Judiciary Committee hears testimony on HJR3 to ban same-sex ‘marriage’

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

The Indiana House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR3) last week, a resolution to change Indiana’s Constitution to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman, but they failed to take a vote on the measure. A committee vote is still pending.

As reported in The Criterion last week, the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) supports HJR3 as a means of defending the nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Current Indiana law defines marriage in this way, but some are concerned that, without a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions, a legal challenge to Indiana’s current law could force Indiana to recognize them.

Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, author of HJR3, said, “Not having constitutional protection makes our state susceptible to judicial interpretation. The future of marriage belongs in the hands of Hoosiers.” Turner also refuted claims that passing the proposed marriage amendment would hurt Indiana’s economy, citing the economic growth in states that have defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

Glenn Tebbe, executive director for the ICC, testified in support of the measure saying, “The Indiana Catholic Conference supports the truth about marriage according to God’s plans and laws even as it supports the dignity of all persons. We call on all citizens to defend and protect these truths. We do support HJR3 as a means of defending the nature of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

Ryan Anderson, a Heritage Foundation fellow and doctoral candidate in public policy at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, said marriage developed over time and cultures as the institution to maximize the likelihood that man and woman unite and take responsibility to raise their children. He cited social science data suggesting that gender different human parenting is necessary culturally and biologically for the optimum development of the child.

“The state’s interest in marriage is not that it cares about my love life or yours for the sake of romance,” said Anderson. “The state’s interest in marriage is to ensure that those kids have fathers who are involved in their life because the consequences for fatherless children are really serious.

“Redefining marriage fundamentally reorients the institution of marriage away from the needs of children and toward the desires of adults,” said Anderson. “It no longer makes marriage about creating a family life that’s ideal for kids, but it’s more about adults’ romance.”

He asked, “How do we insist that fathers are essential when the law redefines marriage to make fathers optional?” The poor and society are better served by the state defining marriage to ensure that a woman and man take responsibility for their children, he added.

Anderson also raised concerns about religious liberty, noting that, in states that have redefined marriage, institutions, churches and private businesses are coerced by law to recognize same-sex unions even if doing so violates the consciences of the people who own those businesses or the teachings of those churches.

Anderson discussed further concerns that redefining marriage also raises new legal challenges, and opens up a legal “slippery slope” to challenge three other historic tenants of marriage— monogamy, sexually exclusive and permanent unions. This action would cause further family fragmentation, he said.

Jackie Simmons, vice president and general counsel for Indiana University, who testified in opposition to the measure, said she believed the amendment would prohibit Indiana from extending same-sex couple benefits.

Representatives from Eli Lilly and Co., Cummins Engines Inc., and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce were among other business leaders who testified in opposition to the resolution, stating that the legislation would inhibit their ability to recruit the best and the brightest talent to Indiana. Individuals also testified in opposition to the measure claiming that same-sex couples would be denied the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples have, and thus infringe on their civil rights.

Jim Bopp, a Terre Haute-based constitutional law attorney for 35 years, argued that the much debated second sentence in HJR3 does not prohibit a “few peculiar benefits being extended” to same-sex couples who are unmarried, such as visitation rights, protection in domestic violence situations, domestic partner benefits or naming beneficiaries.

“These rights are being given now to single people. These claims by the opponents are just red herrings that the opponents like to use to keep Indiana’s statute in its very vulnerable position,” said Bopp.

Maureen Gutgsell testified in support of traditional marriage. A resident of Jasper, Ind., Gutgsell is a Catholic who experiences same-sex attraction but seeks to live by the Church’s teachings on this matter.

“People probably wonder how a lesbian could be opposed to gay marriage,” said Gutgsell. “It’s really quite simple, I’m Catholic. We are all called to live holy and chaste lives. It is not an injustice to anyone to define marriage between one man and one woman.”

Rev. Andrew Hunt, III, pastor of New Life Community Church in Indianapolis, testified in support of HJR3. “I’m an African-American who lived through the civil rights movement, and there is no comparison between the civil rights movement and same-sex marriage.”

If HJR3 passes both houses of the Indiana General Assembly this session, Indiana voters will have an opportunity to approve it by a referendum vote during the Nov. 4 general election.

(Brigid Curtis Ayer is a correspondent for The Criterion. For more information about the Indiana Catholic Conference, log on to www.indianacc.org. To explore the ICC’s electronic public policy tool and join the ICC legislative network, go to the ICC Web page and click “Legislative Action Center.”)

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