SJR-7 Update

SJR-7, the bill to amend the Indiana Constitution to prevent equal marriage rights for gay people, was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and will soon be presented to the full Senate for voting – probably next week.

That’s pretty bad news, especially since two amendments to the legislation that were presented were struck down and it will be going to the Senate as is.

The supporting and opposition testimony at the hearing was heavily about that highly controversial and very ambiguous second sentence that I blogged about earlier. Let me refresh your memory:

Definition of marriage. Provides that marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman. Provides that Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Yeah, that’s the one. The guy who introduced the bill, Republican Senator Brandt Hershman, admitted under questioning that even he doesn’t know what “legal incidents of marriage” actually means from a legal standpoint, although he is for some reason confident that it won’t affect anyone but gay people, and that all the other consequences that I blogged about, and that constitutional scholars are sending up red flags about, will never, ever come to pass, gee fucking whiz. Not that he had any explanation about why that wouldn’t occur. We apparently should just trust him. Right.

Both amendments to the legislation that were struck down were about that second clause – one sought to alter it so that legislatures in the future could, when Hoosiers are no longer hate-filled bigots, alter the definition of marriage to be defined in whatever way future Indiana citizens see fit. That was struck down.

The other amendment sought to remove the second sentence altogether, so the ambiguity and potential future lawsuits and controversy that will inevitable arrive from it don’t occur. That, too was struck down.

The defeat of the amendments and the approval of the bill all got votes of 7-4.

Voting against this bill:
Sen. Anita Bowser (D-Michigan City), Sen. John Broden (D-South Bend), Sen. Sam Smith (D-East Chicago) and Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson).

and the bigots voting in favor:
Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), Sen. Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger), Sen. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville), Sen. David Ford (R-Hartford City) and Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette).

As I said, we’ll be marking it down on their permanent records.
What happens next with SJR-7?

I’m going to project a bit here, based on my experience following legislation in the past.

First it will go to the Senate – probably next week, between February 5-9. With any luck it will die there. But it probably won’t, ’cause our Senate is full of bigots who hate gay people. But you should be sending a slew of calls and email to your Senators, no matter what.

If it passes the Senate, it will go to a hearing before a House Committee, similar to today’s hearing. That would probably happen the week of February 12-16. Just in time for Valentines Day! How fracking lovely. If we are very lucky, it will die there. If we’re only sorta lucky, they’ll at least alter that second clause before approving it. (please Jesus, Buddha and Hanuman.) Again, contacting the people on the committee will be helpful critical.

If it doesn’t die there, it would be voted on in the full House, which would probably happen around February 20th or soon after. If it gets to this point – that’s VERY VERY BAD. Which means you better get your ass to the Statehouse, or if you or a family member is on your deathbed, send massive mail or phone calls. And ask your friends and family to do the same.

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