Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
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A look back at the support HJR-3 received by lawmakers

The HJR 3 issue's off the front burner now, but it's not dead. Here's why reps from Elkhart County's delegation backed the measure.

Posted on Feb. 25, 2014 at 12:42 p.m.

Tuesday Feb. 25, 2014

The Indiana Senate voted last week in favor of House Joint Resolution 3, the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, thereby prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Reps from the local gay community I subsequently spoke to (look here) say the fight needs to be kept up against the measure ahead of likely continued debate in 2015 or 2016 and a possible ballot question on the matter in 2016.

Following, from the other side, is a collection of arguments largely for HJR 3 from Elkhart County’s delegation to Indianapolis, all of them Republicans and most of them for the measure. The issue has fallen by the wayside for now, but it'll re-emerge. The comments are pulled from Elkhart Truth archives, from interviews I had with the varied officials.

Timeless: Indiana Rep. Tim Wesco, from Osceola, cited what he described as the timeless nature of male-female relationships. He expressed support for the amendment to “recognize in our state’s highest law what was established at the beginning of time.”

He later told me that by defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, it strengthens the institution of the family and, therefore, benefits and strengthens the state. "I think ultimately the ideal is a man and a woman and the state should encourage that ideal," Wesco said, citing biblical teachings and history.

(In the photo, the Indiana Senate's Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee on Feb. 10, when lawmakers on the body passed HJR 3. Photo supplied by Freedom Indiana.)

Tolerance creates threat to schools: Rep. Wes Culver, from Goshen, expressed concern that allowing same-sex marriage would legitimize such relationships and lead to their acceptance and tolerance in public schools. Parents against such marriages would pull their kids from public schools as a result, which would likely lead to moves to let public funding earmarked for such children follow them to private institutions. Ultimately, public schools would suffer and quality of education would take a hit.

Male-female unions, moreover, lead to “stronger families, a stronger society,” and they're supported in the Bible, Culver said.

OK with civil unions: Rep. Tim Neese was a bit more vague, as I recall, saying that as a conservative, limiting marriages to male-female unions “is an appropriate approach.”

Neese later indicated a more nuanced position. He's open to civil unions between gay partners, he said, and wouldn't object to easing the proposed amendment's language against such relationships. Ultimately he voted, with a majority in the House, to remove a portion of HJR 3 that would’ve prohibited civil unions.

'Special male-female relationship': Sen. Joe Zakas, Granger, touted procreation as a defense for affirming male-female unions in the Constitution.

“Over the years, societies have shown deference to male-female marriage relationships in order to have a future,” he said. “That's a reason that there's children.”

Pushing for an amendment isn't necessarily a matter of banning anything, Zakas said, but “recognizing ... the special male-female relationship and marriage.”

In another interview he said: "If society's going to have a future, then there's going to have to be children... So favoring the bond of a man and a woman is just common-sense public policy."

Male-female marriage, OK; amending the Constitution, not OK: Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, who ended up voting against HJR 3, backs the notion of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but she questioned the wisdom of HJR 3. Indiana law already defines marriage as a male-female bond.

Approving HJR 3 would undermine the notion of “protecting our Constitution from supermajorities and the pressures of the politics of the day.”

Kubacki continued: “My responsibility as a legislator is to protect and defend our Constitution, not reject and amend it. If we go down that path we might as well just rip it up and make a list of laws as opinion changes.”

Tim Vandenack is a reporter at the Elkhart Truth newspaper. Reach him at tvandenack@elkharttruth.com or 574-296-5884. Visit him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack.


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