In my first post last week I gave readers an assignment to read the second section of the so called "Indiana Marriage Amendment" several times and try to understand it. Just in case you didn't do your homework here are those 29 words again:
This Consitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
Remember those picture puzzles like this one that challanged you to see how many items you could find in them? There were all sorts were hidden numbers, letters, names, animals, for you to discover. Well, dear reader, how many ambiguities and ill-defined terms can YOU find in the Amendment's second paragraph? My answer: enough to make you wonder why any rational legislator would seriously consider voting for it without taking the time to be sure of what it means.
For starters, take "unmarried couples or groups". That phrase appeared in the initial Federal Marriage Amendment proposal, and was picked up by the Indiana drafters for the Hoosier version. But in 2004 folks at the national level discovered there was something wrong with that phrase, and changed it to "any union other than the union of a man and a woman". At least it sounds a lot more like "same sex marriage" or "civil unions", which is supposedly what the pushers of the national and Indiana amendments say they are targeting. It's this revised language that Congress voted on (and defeated) recently. But apparently nobody bothered to tell Eric Miller, Micah Clark, State Senator Brent Hershman, and other friends of the Indiana proposal of the change, because the older "unmarried" language stayed in the Hoosier version and was passed by the General Assembly in early 2005.
So now the Indiana proponents are out of step with their national counterparts and are stuck with "unmarried couples or groups", because if they change it in the next General Assembly, they will have to start all over again and also pass it in 2009 to get it on the ballot in 2010. That would deny them the opportunity to make it a "wedge issue" to draw out the Republican base in November 2008.
So it's full speed ahead with "unmarried couples or groups" and those pushing the measure are hoping they can either hide the differences with the national version or can fool folks into thinking it doesn't matter. But it does.......and some hard and precise questions need to be asked in the public square. Inquiring unmarried Hoosier minds want to know. Let's make sure they do.