Today in Indiana: HJR-3

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

At 10am EST this morning, the Indiana House Judiciary Committee will vote on HJR-3, a proposed amendment to the state constitution which reads: "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized."

This amendment has been proposed despite the fact that Indiana already has a state law restricting same-sex marriage, and despite the fact that legislators are acting in flagrant disregard of the will of the people, who by a clear majority do not want such an amendment added to their state constitution. In fact, a majority of Hoosiers want the existing ban repealed.

People are showing up at the state house this morning to protest, and Freedom Indiana has provided an easy to way to urge lawmakers to reject HJR-3.

This proposed amendment is bad for business in our already economically depressed state: Major employers who are already headquartered in the state oppose the amendment, and companies looking to move or grow are increasingly passing by states with codified discrimination. So, there's that.

And there's the fact that most Hoosiers don't support this retrofuck garbage piece of legislation passed, and our legislature is ignoring us and literally doubling-down on hatred in direct contravention of the people they are meant to represent.

But the most important reason that HJR-3 needs to be thrown into a dumpster is that it's cruel. It's cruel and dehumanizing and unfair and profoundly hostile to the idea that every US citizen is guaranteed the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as long as that happiness doesn't cause harm to anyone else. The Indiana legislature should not assert the right to tell the people of this state that they don't have a right to pursue happiness however they ever want to define it for themselves.

The Indiana legislature has no fucking business policing the relationships of consenting adults the end.

Anyway. Here's what's going down:
A panel of 13 lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee is expected to take about two-and-a-half hours of testimony before taking a vote. If approved, the amendment would move to the full House for a vote, perhaps as early as this week.

The committee also will be considering a companion bill intended to clarify the amendment's intent. That measure states that the amendment is not intended to deny employer health benefits to same-sex couples or to circumvent local ordinances that forbid discrimination.

Supporters are hoping the companion bill will help reassure lawmakers who are concerned about the amendment's second sentence, which also bans civil unions or other arrangements "substantially similar" to marriage.

The committee's four Democrats are expected to vote against the amendment, but three Republicans would have to join them to defeat it. Most observers say that's unlikely.

Still, three GOP lawmakers – Reps. Daniel Leonard of Huntington, Wendy McNamara of Mount Vernon, and Rep. Jerry Torr of Carmel – have said they're undecided.
It's a nailbiter.

If the amendment is approved by both the state senate and state house, it will be put on November's ballot. And I think I've mentioned once or twice or eleventy million times my feelings about letting marginalized people's civil rights be determined by mob rule. The rights of marginalized people shouldn't be dependent on whether privileged people choose decency over the maintenance of undeserved privilege.

And, yes, in clearly worded surveys, the majority of Hoosier voters oppose legislation to deny equality. But I am not confident that a ballot measure, following the typical conservative obfuscation campaign, would accurately reflect that will. It should never go to the ballot in the first place.

Anyway. Again. Leah's got info here on how to raise your voice today and how best to get news about what's happening today at the state capitol.

I'll just wrap it up with this thought for our legislators down in Indy: Indiana's state motto is "Crossroads of America." And America is at a crossroads on marriage equality. The momentum is surely on the side of progress, but this fight isn't yet won. Most Hoosiers are imploring you to choose progress, to vote for equality. You're at a crossroads. I implore you to take the decent path.

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UPDATE: After several hours of arguments, the House Committee has adjourned and has delayed the vote. The Judiciary Chairman won't say when the committee will reconvene, although I'm guessing it will be at some time when there isn't visible evidence that a majority of Hoosiers don't support this garbage. Check in with Freedom Indiana and follow the #HJR3 hashtag for updates.

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