EDITORIAL: Let courts rule on same-sex marriage

2014-03-12T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Let courts rule on same-sex marriage nwitimes.com
March 12, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The Love v. Pence lawsuit filed last week in federal court in New Albany asks the federal judge to overturn Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a male and a female.

The lawsuit seeks to force Indiana to not only recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere but also issue licenses to same-sex couples.

The plaintiffs include both unmarried couples and couples married elsewhere.

A lawsuit was bound to happen, after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June nullified part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act from which the Indiana law was patterned. Similar bans on gay marriage have been struck down in state after state since then.

This lawsuit comes after the Indiana General Assembly this year toned down and delayed a legislative push to amend the Indiana Constitution to ban same-sex marriages in Indiana.

Altering the language to remove a prohibition on civil unions means the constitutional amendment won't go to the voters this November, and maybe not at all. State lawmakers would have to approve the identical language again in 2015 or 2016 for it to be put on the ballot.

Opponents of gay marriage say they feared a court challenge if the constitution wasn't amended first.

But think of the consequences of adopting that kind of amendment. 

The institution of marriage is evolving quickly elsewhere, and Indiana risks a reputation as an isolationist backwater if it fails to respect same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. That could harm economic development efforts.

Indiana lawmakers should be grateful for this lawsuit, which could take the matter out of their hands. Depending on the outcome and speed of this lawsuit, it could give them political cover. 

And it could help lawmakers focus on Indiana's economy. Being pro-business means more than just cutting taxes. It also means creating a welcoming atmosphere for top talent, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Adopting a constitutional prohibition would do the opposite.

Nor would a constitutional amendment be the final say on the issue. Both Oklahoma and Utah have had amendments overturned in federal court.

Expect the courts to decide this issue, just as the Love v. Pence lawsuit hopes to do. 

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