Amending Same-Sex Marriage Ban Dicey ; Would Affect 614 State Laws

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Amending a same-sex marriage ban into Indiana's constitution would affect 614 laws that are already on the state's books, according to a new report. Over nine months of analysis, a group of students at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law said such an amendment's impact would range from blocking same-sex couples from receiving tax and pension benefits to allowing those couples to skirt conflict-of-interest laws.

"Our goal in this project has been to create an impartial resource that will facilitate a discussion on what a constitutional amendment actually involves," said Cara M. Johnson, one of the law students who worked on the report.

The result is a list of 614 reasons for Indiana to reject the amendment, said Rick Sutton, the former president of Indiana Equality Action, a pro-gay rights group.

"I think the sheer volume of potential conflicts and issues is going to surprise a lot of people," he said, predicting that adopting the amendment would prompt countless county-and state- level legal battles over its implications.

Until the Nov. 6 election, opponents of same-sex marriage won electoral battles in 32 consecutive states. But this year, same-sex marriage proponents won statewide ballot battles in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

Indiana lawmakers are considering whether to take the second step of the three-step process to amend the same-sex marriage ban into the state's constitution. If they do, voters would have the final say in a November 2014 referendum.

"The voters are way ahead of the General Assembly on this issue. Should it go to the ballot in 2014, we already have a campaign plan prepared. We're ready," Sutton said. He predicted the issue would receive the same amount of attention as a governor's race.

"We watched Nov. 6, too, and the national momentum on this is moving very, very quickly, and very, very well in our opinion. Public opinion polls are quite clear: The public does not want to see their constitution amended for this issue."

Eric Miller, head of Advance America and an advocate for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, said the report is not persuasive.

"The amendment is not new. The debate is not new. The debate is very, very simple: Should Indiana pass a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as between one man and one woman? The voters of Indiana deserve to have that say," he said.

Miller said just like opponents, the advocates of the amendment will roll out a coordinated campaign that will involve emails and mailers, public service announcements, and reaching out to church networks.

"We'll continue to mobilize our grass roots network of several thousand churches of families throughout the state of Indiana to support the marriage amendment in the 2013 General Assembly, and then we'll be educating people about the importance of this amendment come November 2014," Miller said. …