gay marriage

Gay candidate takes on gay marriage opponent

September 17th, 2014 at 5:47 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

One state Senator stood out in the battle over gay marriage in the General Assembly this year.  Republican Mike Delph of Carmel fought against gay marriage both in public and in private.

He now has a Democratic opponent, JD Ford, who is openly gay.

Ford appeared at a party sponsored news conference Wednesday to talk about women’s issues but he’s getting noticed because he’s the guy running against Sen. Delph.  Gay marriage is an issue in the race.

“I don’t bring it up, you know, they actually bring it up to me.” says Ford.  “And what I’m hearing at the doors, Jim, is that folks are so tired of this divisive social issue.”

Delph’s battle against gay marriage and the way the issue was handled by GOP leaders cost him a leadership post this year.  At one point in February he said, “I don’t accept the lifestyle of homosexuality.  I think it’s wrong.”

He lost his seat assignment and was forced to sit with the Democrats.  He tweeted that “many conservatives are tired of liberal to moderate GOP leadership.”

We found Senator Delph playing guitar on his deck in Carmel where he said he was treated unfairly.

“And I think it’s much easier to get positive news coverage when you’re part of the progressive lesbian gay bisexual community,” he said, “than it is if you’re a Christian conservative.”

And that’s an issue in the race, too..

“It’s not really about my personal interests,” said Ford, “unlike my opponent who is in the Senate and who is pushing his personal agenda.”

Yet Delph insists he represents the views of the district.  He says he hears that when he goes door to door.

“People are just not vocal on some of these things because they know how subject to attack they would be,” he said, “by sharing their personal beliefs in the public realm.”

Thursday night Delph will be named legislator of the year by the Indiana Family Institute.

He represents a state Senate district that covers portions of Marion and Hamilton Counties.  It’s considered to be a Republican district but in the last election Democrats Joe Donnelly and Glenda Ritz carried it.

That means this may be a race to watch in November..

Gay marriage opponents take lower profile

August 25th, 2014 at 4:09 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The opponents of gay marriage held no rallies Monday.  In fact, they’ve taken a low profile in recent weeks but they still hope to win the gay marriage battle in Indiana.

It’s a battle that started in 2004 and the supporters of traditional marriage have always felt they had a better chance of winning in the General Assembly than in the courts.  They also know that judges don’t pay attention to rallies.

If you go back to 2007 the biggest rally at the Statehouse that year was this one in support of a constitutional ban on same sex marriage.

It’s a cause that has been led primarily by three men.  Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, who says, “We would much rather have legislators make laws and not judges,” Micah Clark of the Indiana Family Association, and Eric Miller of Advance America.

They have done their best to keep battle out of the courts.

If you go to their websites now there is no mention of the hearing in the federal appeals court, no mention of rulings that didn’t go their way, and no mention of any attempt to rally support.

“Our views, our voice has been registered through the friend of the court briefs,” says Smith, “but we have great confidence in our Attorney General.”

And the Attorney General will argue in Chicago that the same sex marriages conducted in Indiana in June were illegal.  Curt Smith hopes that the battle will someday return to the General Assembly.

“We haven’t given up,” he said, “we’re not going away.”

But it will be back in the General Assembly only if the supporters of traditional marriage win in the courts.

How the gay marriage case will play out in the Appeals Court

August 25th, 2014 at 1:27 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the Indiana gay marriage case in a Chicago courtroom Tuesday morning beginning at 10:30 Indianapolis time.

There will be 20 minutes set aside for attorneys for same sex couples and another 20 minutes for the state.  Solicitor General Thomas Fisher will make those arguments.

Then, both sides in a Wisconsin case will get the same opportunity.

A 3 judge panel that will be drawn from the 10 judges in the 7th Circuit will decide the case.  7 of them were appointed by Republican Presidents, 3 by Democrats.

Professor Joel Schumm of the I.U. McKinney School of Law says we won’t know the identity of the panel members until 10 a.m.

“If all three of the judges are appointed by Democratic Presidents then the same sex couples should feel really confident.” he said.  “If it’s not, if it’s a mix.  I don’t think that”s going to necessarily determine the outcome.”

That’s because in other appeals judges appointed by Democrats have always ruled in favor of same sex marriages and those appointed by Republicans have split.

In the cases in other parts of the country it has taken about 2 and a half months to get a ruling.

“I suspect this’ll be faster than that because the 7th Circuit’s expedited the cases,” says Schumm.  “They’ve shortened the time for briefs to be filed.  They’ve made it clear that they want to decide this pretty quickly, so I’d look for it within a few weeks.”

If you want to listen in you can do so at

No matter what happens look for the case to go to the Supreme Court and the ruling to be stayed in the meantime.

Indiana won’t recognize gay marriages

July 9th, 2014 at 11:58 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The State of Indiana will not recognize the gay marriages conducted here during three days in June.

The governor’s chief counsel, Mark Ahearn, sent a memo to agency heads this week advising them that the Indiana ban on gay marriages is in full force pending an appeal.

The memo tells agencies to “execute their functions” as though the June 25th federal court order striking down the ban had not been issued.

The memo does make an exception for the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasny, in accordance with a ruling by the federal appeals court.

Attorney General defends his gay marriage stance

July 3rd, 2014 at 3:44 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Attorney General Greg Zoeller is defending his role in the gay marriage battle now underway in the federal courts.  He is making his feelings known in an opinion piece sent to Indiana newspapers.

Zoeller’s appeal of the ruling that struck down Indiana’s gay marriage ban and his request for a stay of that ruling are no surprise.  He previewed his actions in a March 18th news conference at the Statehouse.

“The current rule of law,” he said at the time, “supports the state’s authority to set the licensing for marriage and we’ll continue to defend that until the Supreme Court tells us differently.”

Now he’s the target of protests and petitions, “Urging the attorney general to stop wasting taxpayer money,” said gay activist Kyle Megrath last week.

And so Zoeller authored an op-ed piece in which he writes, “Not to have requested a stay would have been a dereliction of duty.”

On Indiana Week in Review it was pointed out that he could let the judge’s ruling stand.  “He is not duty bound,” said John Ketzenberger of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute. “I will object to that because he had a choice to make.”

“He chose to take the intolerant position,” said Democrat Ann DeLaney, “and he should be aware of that and he should own up to it.”

In the op-ed piece Zoeller wrote that “some view me as being on the ‘wrong side of history or even bigoted, homophobic or uncaring.”

“None of that,” he wrote, “is accurate.”

“He is duty bound to protect the laws that the legislature passed,” said Republican Mike McDaniel, “and that’s the way he sees it and that’s what he’s doing.”

But Zoeller understands.  He wrote that being an elected official means being subjected to criticism.

He also made the point that this is an issue that is “impossible to address in a way that the public would accept as being fair to all concerned.”

Governor Pence must decide whether to recognize gay marriages

June 30th, 2014 at 5:27 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

What happens to the hundreds of gay marriages that took place in Indiana last week?

Because a federal appeals court has placed a judicial stay on legalized gay marriage there is confusion.

The federal government will recognize the same sex marriages conducted in Indiana, but it’s up to the governor to decide if state government will also recognize them.

It’s a decision that can affect tax filing, job benefits, hospital visitation, and more.

Governor Mike Pence is researching what to do.  “We’re obtaining counsel from our general counsel’s office as well as the Attorney General,” he said, “to determine the right way forward for the state of Indiana and the programs in the state of Indiana, so I’ll be making that decision and making that public in the days ahead.”

Pence’s support of traditional marriage is well known but he said that’s not part of his calculation.

“How I feel about the issue is really secondary to what the law requires,” he said.

Gay marriage advocates petition the Attorney General

June 27th, 2014 at 2:57 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Federal Judge Richard Young has not yet ruled the state’s request for a legal stay of his ruling that legalized gay marriage in Indiana.

So, this afternoon Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed another request Friday afternoon with the federal appeals court in Chicago asking the judges there to put a halt to gay marriages while he pursues an appeal.

Gay rights advocates descended on the Attorney General’s office delivering petitions that call on Greg Zoeller to let the ruling stand.

“We understand he’s probably busy,” said Steven Stolen, a plaintiff in one of the federal lawsuits that sparked the ruling, “but we would love to have the opportunity for him to know that we’re carrying petitions, over 12,000 Hoosiers, who are aking the attorney general to recognize and respect the work of the court.”

The petition drive began before the landmark ruling was handed down Wednesday but picked up speed once the law changed and people got a better idea of what’s at stake.

“There’s an element of fear,” said Kyle Megrath of Hoosiers Unite for Marriage, “that if this great and wonderful thing of marriage goes away that these families won’t have the protections that they’ve waited so long for.”

At the County Clerk’s office same sex couples continue to line up and the threat of a stay is one reason why.

“I was just hoping that if there’s a stay it wouldn’t come till next week,” said Greg Waggoner while waiting in line for a marriage license, “so, we’ll get it done today.”

“We’re gonna keep doing what we’re doing,” said County Clerk Beth White, “and if the federal court orders me to stop then I will comply with the order.”

It’s easy to see that this legal battle is far from over.

“If we already have the law there, we already have it where we can get married,” said Angie Alexander, another plaintiff, “then there’s no point of going to appeals.”

The chief of staff for Greg Zoeller promised that he will see the petitions.

Legal issues still hang over gay marriages in Indiana

June 26th, 2014 at 2:16 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Same sex marriage is legal in Indiana, but for how long?

It’s a question that hangs over the celebrations that are still being carried out by supporters of marriage equality.

There is a liklihood that gay marriages could be placed on hold in the very near future.

As same sex couples take their vows one after the other it’s hard to ignore the fact that Indiana is heading in a new direction.

“I think it’s pretty fantastic that we’re finally getting somewhere in such a conservative place,” said newlywed Harlan Wilson. “It’s about time that things are turning around.”

But things could turn back just as quickly.  The Attorney General is asking for the ruling by federal judge Richard Young that struck down Indiana’s ban on gay marriage to be put on hold.

Chris Paulsen of Indiana Equality said,  “I wouldn’t be surprised if it is stayed.”

“I think the odds are pretty good,” said  Indiana Uuniversity McKinney School of Law professor David Orentlicher who points to what has happened in other states.

So, what about newlywed same sex couples, will their marriages be recognized?

“We know the federal government has said that they will view these marriages as valid under federal law,” said Orentlicher.

State law is another matter and that’s why Orentlicher believes that the U.S. Supreme Court will step in during the term that begins in October.

“Things are moving so fast,” he said.  “It’s an important issue.  I think it would be hard for the court to say let’s wait on this.”

Orentlicher also has a prediction.  He believes that eventually the Supreme Court will establish gay marriage as the law of the land.

Gay marriages conducted in Indianapolis

June 25th, 2014 at 3:59 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Federal Judge Richard Young struck down the state’s ban on same sex marriage Wednesday.

It’s a ruling that created a rush to the City County Building where same sex couple immediately began exchanging vows.

First in line at the Clerk’s office were Jake Miller and Craig Bowen.  Miller says he proposed by text after reading about the court ruling.
They obtained their marriage license surrounded by a crush of photographers.

“It’s amazing,” said Miller, “we’ve been waiting for 8 and a half years,”  ”

It’s a validation of our relationship,” said Bowen. “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

Within a matter of minutes they were married by Marion County Clerk Beth White who says she was planning for this day to happen.

“We’re ready,” she said.  “The only potential glitch is the way the license currently reads.  It says bride and groom.”

Among those in line at the Clerk’s office was Rick Sutton, the man who led the fight against a constitutional ban on same sex marriage.  He married partner Bobby Owens.

“It’s just an expression that you want to be able to make,” he said, “that you’ve been heretofore prohibited from making.”

The concern for some is that legalized gay marriage will be a temporary circumstance in Indiana.  Opponents are disappointed by the developments and vow to fight.

“I think it trivializes the institution of marriage,” said Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute.  “I think it makes it all about adult desires rather than the needs of children.”

But as word of the ruling spread, couples raced to the City County Building and lined up to take advantage of a change in the law that came much quicker than any of them anticipated.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller will appeal the ruling and the governor backs him up on that.  But Mike Pence issued a statement saying that the state of Indiana will comply with it.

Gay marriage debate will lead to a GOP floor fight

May 20th, 2014 at 3:45 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

There will be a floor fight at the state GOP Convention in Fort Wayne next month over a platform plank in support of traditional marriage.

The addition to the platform made Monday has produced an emotional response that is coming from supporters of gay marriage, but also from party leaders who believe that there is no need to address the issue in the GOP platform.

The reaction began on Twitter.  Hendricks County GOP Chairman Mike O’Brien tweeted that he is “disappointed the party took a step backward.”

Greg Ballard aide Amy Waggoner tweeted “you are losing a generation of voters” in reference to young people.

Yet even former state treasurer Marge O’Laughlin, a party elder and a convention delegate, is baffled by the move.   “There’s so many issues that are much more important,” she said.  “I just think it’s a foolish thing to include it in the platform.”

The state GOP platform now states “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society.”

It says, “We also recognize that some families are much more diverse” but makes no direct reference to gay marriage.

Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann chaired the meeting Monday where the marriage plank was added at the encouragement of conservative activist Jim Bopp who said, “It’s an important issue that needs to be addressed.”

Now gay rights activist and convention delegate Megan Robertson is among those planning to challenge the wording on the convention floor. “This tells gay Hoosiers that they aren’t Republicans,” she said, “and being a gay Hoosier who’s Republican I take offense to that.”