Don Sherfick

Indiana Republicans Duped on SJR7? Maybe We Owe Them An Apology

Filed By Don Sherfick | August 28, 2007 12:01 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Advance America, Brandt Hershman, Brian Bosma, David Long, FMA, Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Marriage Amendment, Republicans, SJR7

The Indiana Equality corner of September's WORD (for Indiana), out today, carries a piece I authored concerning the possibility that Eric Miller and other proponents of SJR7, the proposed "marriage amendment" to the Indiana constitution, may have put one over on sponsoring Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly. Thanks to Word editor Ted Fleishaker, the entire current issue can be read here, with the IE item appearing on page 45. I've set it out below and past the jump and then make a few additional comments.)

Last month Republican State Senate Pro Tem President David Long fired off a letter to Advance America's Eric Miller. It complained loudly that Miller had made misleading public statements about where Senator Long stood on property tax relief.

Maybe it's time that Long and other members of the Indiana legislature, complain to Miller and his colleagues Micah Clark of the American Family Association and Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute about another big misrepresentation that's been made to them about Senate Joint Resolution 7, the so-called "Indiana Marriage Protection Amendment."

Unlike virtually all similar amendments in other states, SJR-7 was borrowed almost verbatim from the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. And get this: In 2004 Congressional sponsors tore up their original FMA version because it didn't clearly let state legislatures establish civil unions. Archconservative Judge Robert Bork, the patron saint of "strict construction" and no friend to our cause, testified that it had been "poorly drafted". He knew because he'd helped write it! So the measure got changed, and sponsors said the new version "made it clear" that the power of state lawmakers wasn't endangered.

You'd think it a no-brainer that, in the name of clarity, Miller, Clark, Smith and Company would have put in that basic change when SJR-7 was introduced in 2005. But no, they kept the discredited language but still say SJR-7 only limits "activist judges" and not the legislature itself.

Why? Were former House Speaker Bosma, chief sponsor Senator Brandt Hershman, Senator Long, and everyone else made aware of this decision and its reasons? If so when, if not, why not? Maybe our community has been too hard on them. Maybe they were duped, too when they say the language is fine the way it is. At least we owe them the benefit of the doubt until they've had a chance to explain. If we've been wrong about them perhaps an apology is in order.

The five courageous Democrats on the House Rules and Legislative Policy Committee who refused to let such a concealed constitutional time-bomb advance to a November 2008 vote by an unsuspecting electorate should be thanked for their actions and urged to continue asking questions. So should the mainstream press and media. This isn't the way Indiana should amend its Constitution. Representative Bosma, and Senators Hershman and Long should want no part of it.

Those of you who have been following my current series on marriage and civil unions know that yesterday I talked about the 2004 change in the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment that didn't make it into SJR7. In the next few days I'll be tying the two together a bit more and raise some additional questions concerning the the impact of all of this on the current Indiana debate.

Note: The Word article incorrectly identifies me as the chairman of the IE Legislative Committee; I'm just a member; colleague and Stop The Amendment, Inc. President Walter Botich III holds that title.


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Zach Adamson | August 29, 2007 8:00 AM

Did they know and when only matters if they care.. More importantly, are they willing to over look history and what has already said about the wording on the federal level, and is it more important that they appeal to their base and continue to jab at the lgbt community without cease. Maybe thats their only concern. the constitutionality of the issue may not even weigh in anywhere. The real question is how many knew this reality and will those who didnt change their mind.. how many will admit to this..? After screaming their heads off about the wording being fine with out looking in to it and now changing that tune may be a non option. Pride can also be an ugly thing when it keeps people from doing what is right.