RICH JAMES: Hoosiers aren't married to changing constitution

2014-01-29T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Hoosiers aren't married to changing constitutionBy Rich James nwitimes.com
January 29, 2014 12:00 am  • 

It’s time for House Speaker Brian Bosma and his same-sex marriage ban backers to fess up.

Bosma wants us to believe there is a hue and cry from voters wanting to have the chance to vote on whether to add a same-sex marriage ban to the Indiana Constitution.

Call it the latest take on Hoosier Hysteria.

Bosma took the highly unusual step of moving House Joint Resolution 3 from the Judiciary Committee to the Elections Committee.

Bosma knew the resolution was doomed in the Judiciary Committee but would pass out of the Elections Committee.

It is a move I've never seen in 35 years of covering and observing the Legislature.

Bosma said the issue shouldn't be decided by one person in the Judiciary Committee, but rather by all 100 members of the House.

That’s poppycock, and Bosma knows it.

The House approved HJR 3 on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate.

House speakers — Bosma included — and the leaders of the Senate have for years assigned bills they wanted to see die to committees to where they would never see the light of day.

Bosma has said this is an issue the people of Indiana should decide “once and for all.”

But Hoosiers aren’t begging for the chance to vote on the marriage amendment, especially since there is a bill on the books banning same-sex marriage in Indiana.

And recent polls show a majority of Hoosiers think banning same-sex marriage is bad public policy that will drive away or keep away some of the best and brightest.

Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, appears cut from the Bosma mold.

Slager this week said he wants the marriage debate to end and that the best way to do that is to allow Hoosiers to ratify or reject it during the Nov. 4 general election.

No, the best way to end debate is to kill the amendment and avoid a multimillion campaign on an ill-advised proposal that flies in the face of the direction Americans are moving.

The five-hour hearing before the Elections Committee drew the most cogent comment to date on the issue.

State Libertarian Party Chairman Dan Drexler said, “The issue at hand is not whether voters have a say; it is whether Speaker Brian Bosma was able to have his own personal say. Lost in this debate is the basic truth that the tyranny of a majority should not be able to strip away the liberties of a minority voice.”

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody added that Bosma and fellow Republicans used “bully-style tactics” to force “unpopular, unnecessary legislation” through committee.

Cut the bull, Mr. Speaker. There are a lot of real issues that need to be addressed as opposed to those — such as the marriage amendment — that are trumped up by you and ultra conservatives for political expediency. HJR 3 can still be stopped.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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