If you want more proof that Senator Brandt Hershman and other proponents of SJR-7 aren't being totally upfront when they claim it would still allow the General Assembly to enact civil unions and make laws bestowing similar benefits, all you need to look at are the words of their allies in 2004: The Concerned Women for America and Gary Bauer.
That was the year conservative sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) decided to make changes in it because of ambiguities they thought could deny state legislatures the authority to enact civil unions or pass similar laws benefiting same-sex couples. President Bush and other Republicans favored the retention of such authority. And, as has been recently re-discovered, Judge Robert Bork had chimed in with his own criticism of the wording.
Among the unhappy conservative campers where the Conservative Women for America (CWA) and 2000 Republican Presidential hopeful Gary Bauer. Robert Knight, director of CWA affiliate Culture and Family Institute, denounced the thought of civil unions, whether judge or legislature made:
CWA continues to stand for protecting marriage without sanctioning bad behavior... When a state creates civil unions and domestic partnerships, it gives government approval to behavior that is immoral, unhealthy and destructive to individuals, families and communities.
Jan Larue, CWA's chief legal counsel, added:
It's wrong for government to sanction and benefit unmarried relationships, 'gay' or straight, whether it's done by a court or a legislature.
Yet despite this opposition to the FMA change, and his rejection of it in SJR-7, Hershman makes the astounding claim that keeping the old language somehow assures that the General Assembly can enact civil unions, etc., if it so chooses!
Gary Bauer, who also had often expressed his opposition to civil unions, was also not pleased. But he was more pragmatic:
Our coalition overwhelmingly opposes civil unions, but we are willing to fight that out, state by state. It just becomes more problematic if you include them in the language of the [Federal Marriage] amendment.
So there you have the game plan: Admit that you don't like the change because it would empower state legislatures, but reluctantly go along with it to get more Congressional votes. Then stick it back in when your troops start tampering with state constitutions.
No wonder the Hershman silence in response to my letter to all 100 members of the Indiana House of Representatives a couple of weeks ago. No wonder out-of-state attorney Chris Stovall and his colleagues didn't go near the issue when they testified before Representative Pelath's House Rules Committee last Wednesday. They know about the divisions in the conservative community and statements like those quoted above. Mistakenly use the older language? I'm very skeptical. Follow the Gary Bauer game plan? That sounds a lot more plausible in Indiana.
Talk about "An Inconvenient Truth"! Hopefully our legislators, the media, and the public are talking about it, too.