Racial Sensitivity 101

 

The U.S. Supreme

Court Friday may have given Indiana Republicans an early Christmas present when

it decided to hear the constitutionality of California's Prop 8, which would

ban same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

Prop

8, as it is known, was a ballot initiative that made same-sex marriage illegal

in California, however the measure was put on hold when the federal courts

ruled the measure served "no purpose and has no effect, other than to

lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to

officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of

opposite-sex couples."

Under

the "marriage amendment" that lawmakers could vote on this upcoming

session, "Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be

valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or

substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not

be valid or recognized."

The

legal question surrounding Prop 8 is whether it violates the Equal Protection

clause of the Constitution. According to the 9th Circuit Court of

Appeals, "Proposition 8 did nothing more than

lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians, and classify their

relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." The court found that "the people of

California, by using their initiative power to target a minority group and

withdraw the right to marry they once possessed under the California State

Constitution, violated the federal Constitution."

Another thing to think about is that

California's Prop 8 was a lot less complicated than Indiana's proposed

amendment. California's amendment said," Only marriage between a man and a

woman is valid or recognized in California." Indiana's gets a lot more

complicated because of the second part of the amendment as noted above, which

talks about a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of

marriage. No one has been able to tell me exactly what that means or what the

consequences of that language would be. Potentially that could be the political

equivalent of tap dancing in a legal minefield.

By agreeing to hear the case, Indiana

lawmakers who have not been crazy about the whole same-sex marriage issue can

make the argument that until the U.S. Supreme Court decides what's going to

happen it would probably be prudent to put the whole matter on hold until next

year. For a measure to get on the ballot to change the Indiana Constitution, it

must be passed by two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly, so it could

still come up in 2014.

If Indiana lawmakers are smart, they

will kick this can down the road and wait to see what happens. Going forward

now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case would be the

equivalent of flying blind and nothing good can come of that.

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