EDITORIAL: Pence, others should spare state divisive marriage fight

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Regardless of which side of the debate Perry Countians come down on, one thing to us is clear. Indiana does not need a divisive constitutional fight over same-sex marriage.

The issue of gender and marriage has been in the spotlight since U.S. Supreme Court justices in June overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act – and let stand a lower court ruling in California striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The response to the rulings was, understandably, mixed. Celebrating were those who believe gay and lesbian couples should have the full rights of marriage and who believe that anything short of that amounts to state-sanctioned discrimination.

On the other hand, those who believe only men and women can validly be married to one another decried the decisions and said the justices were threatening one of the foundations of human society, the family.

Regardless, the court’s rulings returned control of same-sex-marriage-legality to individual states, like Indiana, whose governor is in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. A state law already defines marriage as such but supporters of the amendment believe enshrining heterosexual marriage into the state constitution will make it harder to overturn in the future.

If the legislature goes ahead with the amendment process, Hoosier voters would decide the issue next fall.

We have already used this page to support rights of states to decide the issue for themselves. However, we now believe Indiana does not need the political drama a constitutional vote on marriage would bring in 2014.

Gov. Mike Pence and GOP leaders should rethink their pledge to push an amendment forward. Any vote will take center stage, create a campaign war of ads, pundits, yard signs and automated phone calls. That would distract state leaders from far more important issues: lowering Indiana’s unemployment rate, improving roads and bridges and providing more funding for schools.

Americans’ attitudes toward same-sex marriage are changing fast and will continue to shift toward tolerance and acceptance. Public-opinion polls we’ve seen show the state almost evenly divided on the issue and many legislators, even a few Republicans, oppose an amendment.

Our opposition to an amendment is not a call for nationwide same-sex marriage or even gay marriage in Indiana. It is a call to put important issues first. Same-sex marriage, while a key social issue, shouldn’t be at the top of state leaders’ action plan for next year.

Gay marriage isn’t coming to Indiana soon. Let the nation’s national debate about what marriage means run its course. Don’t amend the constitution when no one knows where Indiana – or the nation’s views on marriage will eventually go.

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.

Your view: Tell us what you think. Send e-mail to us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.