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Let the voters decide on marriage amendment

By Scott Tibbs, November 20, 2013

Opponents of House Joint Resolution 6 are touting polls that show a majority of Hoosiers are opposed to amending the state constitution to legally define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. If they are confident in the defeat of the amendment next November, what is the harm of putting it before the voters? Do HJR6 opponents not trust Hoosier voters?

The institution of marriage is inherently discriminatory. The question on the table is not whether government should discriminate in what unions it recognizes as marriages, but how discriminatory it should be. We are significantly changing the definition of marriage as defined by our Christian heritage by expanding it to homosexual unions. Once government moves away from the Christian definition of marriage, what rational basis is there to deny recognition of marriages between close family members or polyamorous relationships? What rational basis is there to not expand the definition of marriage beyond that?

Indiana law already prohibits government from recognizing homosexual unions as a marriage, but as we have seen around the country, state law often is not enough to ensure that the law protects the traditional definition of marriage. In California, even an amendment to the state constitution itself - passed by a majority of voters while the state was voting overwhelmingly to elect Barack Obama in 2008 - was not enough. It is reasonable to enshrine this in the state constitution to protect marriage from activist judges.

This amendment, if passed, takes away no one's rights and limits no one's freedom. Homosexuals do not have the right to marry in Indiana, so passing an amendment to the state constitution would not change anything. The amendment would not criminalize sodomy, nor would it prohibit homosexuals from living in a committed relationship and publicly calling that relationship a "marriage" - it just would not be recognized as a marriage by state government.

A marriage protection amendment, instead of denying rights, would protect our rights - specifically freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of association. Business owners in Colorado and New Mexico have already been punished by state government for declining on religious grounds to provide services to same-sex marriages. These kinds of government encroachments on liberty - mandating acceptance rather than tolerance of homosexuality - will become more common as more states recognize same-sex marriages.

The state legislature should allow the people of Indiana to choose for ourselves whether we want this in the state constitution. Passing HJR6 is the right thing to do.