Many Hoosiers who support HJR 3, the controversial state constitutional amendment said to ban same-sex marriage, don’t seem to be aware of its full impact. Rather than merely banning marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples, it is, instead, a far-reaching, draconian amendment that also bans civil unions, domestic partnerships and “anything similar.”
The impact will be to destroy public and private employer domestic partnership benefits, like health insurance, presently extended to an employee’s partner and children. It will also nullify local municipal gay rights ordinances across Indiana, which currently provide a bare minimum level of rights and protections.
Attempting to rectify the severity of HJR 3 in the eyes of the public, and thus sell it to Hoosier voters, House Republicans recently attached a last-minute “add-on amendment,” HB 1153. Now the public is being told that HB 1153 will prevent the revocation and denial of these minimal protections and benefits, thus ensuring that voters will pass the amendment, which, polling shows, would otherwise not pass.
However, according to many legal scholars, if HB 1153 does not go through the same constitutionally required, yearslong legislative process HJR 3 underwent, it will not withstand legal scrutiny, will be struck down and will thus leave HJR 3 in its most draconian and spiteful form to gut even the most minimal rights, protections and benefits currently provided by law.
Furthermore, passing HJR-3 is an exercise in futility given the current legal precedents of the Supreme Court striking down DOMA last summer, and now the two recent federal court decisions in Utah and Oklahoma, based upon and further affirming that precedent — all of which are rooted in the fundamental constitutional protections granted by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Finally, there are currently 18 federal court cases in 15 different states, challenging state constitutional marriage amendments, like HJR 3 — many, if not all, now anticipated to win due to this accumulating legal precedent rooted in the fundamental constitutional protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment which apply to all Americans.
Indiana is supremely ill-advised to waste time and taxpayer money attempting to pass HJR 3 as it is now manifestly apparent such a draconian amendment will be quickly dispatched by the federal courts. I appeal to the representatives of the full Indiana House to vote no on HJR 3 and kill this dreadful and discriminatory bill.
Linda Giovanna Zambanini