Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kenley Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Ban Key Turning Point

The announcement this week by Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), one of the Indiana Senate's most influential Republican members, opposing the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and recognition of similar rights for unmarried couples could prove to be a key turning point in the expected debate during the upcoming session of the General Assembly. Kenley, a Harvard Law School graduate and previous supporter of the amendment, says shifting public opinion has caused him to rethink his position.
Noting what he called the “rapidly evolving” shift in public opinion reflected in a poll released Thursday, the influential, conservative Republican said he’ll oppose such a measure if, as expected, it comes up for debate in the 2013 session.
“I don’t think putting it in the Constitution is a good idea,” said Kenley, the powerful Senate appropriations committee chairman who describes himself as a supporter of traditional marriage.
“I really value the institution of heterosexual marriage,” Kenley said. “But I do not think that putting a statement in the (state) constitution which runs down or is bigoted toward people who have a different kind of loving relationship, that I may not understand, is going to be productive.”
A poll released earlier this week indicated that a majority of Hoosier voters no oppose the proposed constitutional amendment. The amendment, which was approved during the last legislative session by overwhelming majorities in the Senate and House, must be approved by the House and Senate one more time during the next session before it can go before voters in the 2014 general election for approval. Indiana enacted a Defense of Marriage Act in 1995, which outlawed the recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, a law that has been upheld as constitutional by the Indiana Court of Appeals. State Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) was the only Republican in the House to vote against the amendment during the last session and his views have not changed. He says that he won't be alone among Republicans in voting against it this time.
“Clearly, a shift has occurred,” he said. "Clere said he’s been approached by state lawmakers who voted for the constitutional ban in 2011 but are now wavering in their support.
Some want to wait on the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently announced it will take up the issue, looking at both the constitutionality of a federal law that bans gay marriage and California’s decision to put a ban on same-sex marriage in that state’s constitution.

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