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.

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