Straight from the op-ed pages

This week’s roundup: Same-sex marriage, immigration reform and cold beer.

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.

Recent editorials from Indiana newspapers:

Judge Richard L. Young’s opinion Wednesday was rendered in clear, strong words that left no room for ambiguity.

Indiana’s anti-gay-marriage law is unconstitutional.

“It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love,” wrote Young, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana.

Gay couples had barely gotten to the courthouses before the denunciations came rolling in, predictable as summer thunder.

Senate President David Long hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would do the right thing and overrule Judge Young and the other federal judges who have coincidentally ruled against anti-gay statutes in a dozen states.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller almost instantly announced his office’s intent to challenge the ruling.

And Gov. Mike Pence, who is usually worried about wasting public money, rushed to announce that he supported Zoeller’s quixotic quest courtesy of Indiana’s otherwise-beleaguered taxpayers.

Just last week, the Indiana legislature was back in session for its Technical Corrections Day, to fix errors in the revised criminal code that was passed during the regular session earlier this year.

With part-time legislators working hard and trying to get back home, mistakes will happen, as Long explained. Surely the legislature’s inability to get the most important bill of the session right had nothing to do with the fact that Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma allowed lawmakers’ passion, energy and attention to be siphoned into the anti-gay-marriage crusade.

Young’s clearly written and impeccably reasoned opinion made it clear that all that bombast about “protecting” traditional marriage will probably prove to be in vain.

“In time,” Young wrote, “Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a same-sex marriage.

“These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Also Wednesday, the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to overturn Utah’s gay marriage ban. Indiana officials can add this ruling to their evidence for mass judicial delusion. But Judge Young’s eloquent decision can only be read as a victory for common sense.

— Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Those looking to the nation's capital for much-needed action on immigration reform may be developing a serious case of whiplash.

Just within the last six months, the signs have veered between hopeful and hopeless. In February, House Speaker John Boehner all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before the fall elections. A few months later, there was talk of reform -- not in one grand measure, but by piecemeal legislation. In a visit with the Editorial Board last month, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, expressed confidence that this was the way reform could and would be accomplished before the November elections.

In the past week, Beltway wisdom has again changed, with some pundits declaring that the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has ended all hope of immigration reform. Of course, these same pundits never saw Cantor's defeat coming.

Amid the shifting winds in Congress, here's one thing that hasn't changed: This country's immigration system desperately needs a comprehensive overhaul. Instead, the issue has been kicked down the road time and time again, leaving states to come up with a patchwork of measures that don't offer a real solution.

As we've often said, this is a job for the federal government, not the states. So it's past time for Congress to get to work and fix a hopelessly broken system.

— South Bend Tribune

Just when some Hoosiers thought they would be able to grab a cold beer at their local grocery, a federal judge canned the idea.

The timing of the decision came as Indiana was ready for a heat wave and the Fourth of July was around the corner.

Quenching thirsts aside, federal Judge Richard L. Young ruled that the state has legitimately drawn a line in allowing only liquor stores to sell cold beer.

Don’t blame the judge. Indiana’s archaic law allows cold beer to be sold in liquor stores, taverns and restaurants. Young agreed that the law was written with the intent that it would be tougher to enforce liquor laws because minors would have more access to cold beer.

The case was filed by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, which wants its members to be on equal footing with those establishments that can sell cold brew.

The ruling fell right into the tight grip that the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers has on legislators. And that’s where the ban needs to be taken.

Indiana, it has been argued, is the only state that allows drug and grocery stores to sell warm beer but not cold beer. Allowing grocery stores to sell cold beer will bring in stronger competition for sales and perhaps price wars. That’s acceptable to Hoosiers who want consumers to be able to decide what they will or will not buy.

But the average consumer is left out of this battle. But by the time legislators listen to their constituents, and not the lobbyists, Hoosiers can drive to neighboring Ohio for a cold brew.

—The Herald Bulletin, Anderson

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