It's good that the proposed constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage won't be on the ballot in Indiana this November. Decoupling the two successive resolutions needed for a referendum on the amendment, by altering the wording, saw to that.
Hoosiers, take a deep breath and relax.
The intense debate on same-sex marriages and civil unions in the Indiana General Assembly has been divisive, and not necessarily instructive.
Indiana law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Period.
That makes same-sex marriages illegal in Indiana. Indiana doesn't recognize civil unions, which could serve as an alternative to traditional marriage.
It's the discussion on the merits of civil unions, which grant legal rights to couples in formalized committed relationships, that knocked the proposed constitutional amendment off the ballot in November.
The Indiana Constitution may be amended only after the same resolution, with the same wording, has been passed in two successive sessions of the Legislature.
The previous version of the constitutional amendment would have forbidden civil unions. This year, that sentence was taken out by the House and not put back in by the Senate. The altered wording resets the clock on this amendment, even if it's approved this year.
And what's the hurry to push this amendment through?
Throughout the nation, there are battles raging on same-sex marriages. Federal judges are weighing in, and similar legislation in other states — Kentucky is the latest — has been struck down. We expect a U.S. Supreme Court ruling will settle this dispute.
The wisest course for Indiana would be to maintain the status quo — same-sex marriages are illegal — and wait for federal court rulings to decide the future of same-sex marriage over the next few years.
Remember, same-sex marriages already are outlawed in Indiana. What's to gain by amending the Constitution?
Let other states foot the bill for these legal battles. Instead, focus on education, jobs and economic growth in Indiana. That's where lawmakers should be expending the most energy.