Bloomington, Indiana and Same Sex Marriage: It’s about Equal Rights

Anne here…

Suppose you are an elected official, authorized to perform marriages in your community, and there is a ban on same-sex marriage in your state. But suppose further, that you believe this ban is not only wrong, it unconstitutionally deprives same-sex couples of equal protection.

A same-sex couple has just approached you asking you to marry them. Which law do you follow? The state law that prohibits same-sex marriage? Or do you invoke the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution and marry them anyway? Since there has not yet been a court decision in your state that declare same-sex marriage to be protected by the equal protection clause, can you do that?

The mayor of Bloomington, Indiana wrestled with this conundrum.

Then, on Thursday, January 31, he stood on a stage, smiled beatifically at 13 couples, and and said, “by the power not yet vested in me by the state of Indiana, I pronounce you partners in life.”

The standing ovation that followed may have been for the 13 “weddings” that had just happened, or it may have been to applaud Mayor Mark Kruzan’s decision to act. He was not alone. Ten Monroe County Council and Bloomington City Council members showered the couples with flowers after the service.

The United States Supreme Court may follow the example of other countries around the world when it makes its decision on two upcoming cases this summer.  It will be a good day for this nation and we no longer have to employ activism to preserve equal rights for all of our citizens.

As Mayor Kruzan said after the ceremony, “History simply will not smile kindly upon those who advocated against the quality. It’s time that same-sex marriage be recognized by all.”

The ban on same-sex marriage is not final in Indiana. Although constitutional amendment has been approved by the legislature, the voters have not approved in a referendum. Next week Indiana legislators will determine whether to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision this summer, or put the measure to the voters of the state.

Indiana’s attorney general has submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Proposition 8 case pending before the Supreme Court. Virginia’s attorney general co-authored the brief, which weighs in on the issue on behalf of 19 states that outlaw same-sex marriage. The brief maintains that the issue of marriage is a province of states, and may not be regulated by the federal government.

The Proposition 8 case will be heard by the United States Supreme Court on March 26, and the DOMA case will be heard the following day.

In related news, the Illinois Senate plans to pass same-sex marriage on Valentine’s Day.

About Anne

Writer. Voracious reader. Lawyer. Jack’s mom. Irreverent. Coffee drinker. Cat owner. Grudging dog owner. Chief cook and bottle washer. Over-educated. Irish-Italian. Irreligious. History buff. Paleontology freak. Science fiction fan. Political junkie. Part-time avenging angel. Tea lover. Music nut. Tale spinner. Movie addict. Opinionated. Wordy.

Got a legal question related to religion? Contact me at anne@aramink.com

  • Glodson

    It is about equal rights, and I expect to see more stand up for it.

    “History simply will not smile kindly upon those who advocated against the quality. It’s time that same-sex marriage be recognized by all.”

    Many will try to rewrite the historical narrative. Watch. A few churches will get involved in the tail in, and this will be co-opted to say they were for equal rights all along. The future Limbaugh’s and O’Reilly’s will say they were supporting it the entire time. People who opposed it will play their Cognitive Dissonance Cards to defend the accusations of bigotry to say they were really for it to. It is easier to lie in the future, to others and yourself, than actually defy the dogma of the religion and political party.

    But I am glad to see Mayor Kruzan and the members of the City Council stepping up. I hope to see more of it as time progresses. And I hope to see the Supreme Court decide the cases correctly.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Yup. There’s been a bit of revisionism on slavery, I do believe.

  • Jaketoadie

    “The brief maintains that the issue of marriage is a province of states, and may not be regulated by the federal government.”

    How is it that something that gives benefits that reach beyond locality is not something that is the federal government’s responsibility to regulate? It seems to me that just the fact that being married changes the way you can file your federal taxes should make it part of the federal government’s responsibility.

    • Andrew Kohler

      So then why has the SCOTUS twice ruled on interracial marriage bans? They ruled unanimously the wrong way in 1883 (Pace v. Alabama; in the same year there was an awful ruling on the constitutionality of civil rights laws in a consolidation of cases unimaginatively called the 1883 civil rights cases) and then unanimously the right way in 1967 (Loving v. Virginia, possibly the most appropriately named case of all time). There have been other cases as well: Turner v. Safley (1987) said that prisoners could marry without needing the consent of the warden.

      In related news, I just found this:

      http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865572385/LDS-Church-files-brief-in-gay-marriage-cases.html

      So says the LDS church’s brief: “Only a demeaning view of religion and religious believers could dismiss our advocacy of Proposition 8 as ignorance, prejudice, or animus.”

      First, way to ignore all of the religious people who are on the right side of this issue. Second, it is entirely irrelevant if some people feel themselves “demeaned” because the laws of the land don’t reflect their personal beliefs. I do not feel demeaned that there is no law against broadcasting The 700 Club, and if anyone tries to pass a law like that I’ll oppose it. So, one must say to the LDS church’s brief: you have no power over people who are not in your organization, and you need to quit whining about it. (And do be sure to ask Joseph Smith his views on traditional marriage while you’re at it.)

  • Allison

    Thanks for writing about my town! I hate living in the Midwest, but at least I get to live in Bloomington.


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