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February 17, 2007

Marriage amendment

<b>State law already bans same-sex unions</b>

A move to amend the Indiana constitution to ban same-sex marriage is a bad idea.

Senate Joint Resolution 7 passed both houses of the Legislature two years ago, but to become law, the resolution has to pass again either this year or next, and then it must clear a statewide referendum.

The measure has already passed the Indiana Senate, and it is now headed to the House.

The amendment has two sections. The first says that marriage in Indiana is solely the union of one man and one woman, and the second says that state law cannot be construed to provide the benefits of marriage to unmarried couples or groups.

It’s that second provision that has proven the most controversial. Opponents say it is vague and could be used to invalidate domestic-violence laws as they relate to unmarried couples.

These critics point to Ohio, where a recent constitutional amendment has led some courts to rule that the state’s domestic-violence law no longer applies to unmarried partners because that state’s constitutional amendment gives their relationship no legal status.

Backers say Ohio’s amendment is worded differently and therefore the situations aren’t comparable, but opponents aren’t so sure.

Critics say the measure might also nullify a state law allowing single Hoosiers to adopt children, and they say it could wipe out contracts between unmarried people concerning inheritance, health care and other legal issues.

Proponents say the measure is needed to protect the sanctity of marriage from lawsuits and activist judges. We disagree.

Whatever threats might face the institution of marriage will not be affected by this amendment.

And just to be clear, this is not a debate about the legality of same-sex marriages. State law already prohibits such unions. This measure would simply write that prohibition into the state constitution, something we see as unnecessary and discriminatory.

The constitution should be reserved for spelling out individual rights, not restricting them.

Indiana does not need a marriage amendment. We call on the Indiana House to reject this measure.

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