gay marriage

Gay marriage ruling prompts Statehouse celebration

June 26th, 2015 at 2:49 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Gay marriage has been legal in Indiana for just over a year but, until now, there was the threat that a Supreme Court ruling could change that.

And that’s why there was a celebration in Indiana today.

Several dozen people gathered within earshot of the governor’s office in the Statehouse rotunda less than two hours after the ruling came down.

“Governor Pence, guess who gets to get married,” organizer Karen Celestino Horseman told the crowd.

It was an emotional rally.

“I can’t say it’s unbelievable because we knew we would get here eventually,” said Satuel Cole. “We just didn’t know when.”

Some of them, including Pam Lee, sued for for right to get married in Indiana.

“This ruling speaks to equality,” Lee told the crowd, “it speaks to fairness, it speaks to freedom and, again, it speaks to love.”

Others just wanted to celebrate.

“It means everything,” said Dana Black. “It means my wife and I, who are contributors in an economic way to our society, now have the ability to be respected in all 50 states.”

“Now Hoosiers know that they can remain married,” said Katie Blair, “without the threat of it being taken away. It’s ours.”

And just in case there were doubts, Celestino Horseman, a lawyer, read from the Supreme Court ruling.

“No union is more profound than marriage,” she read, “for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.”

The law of the land just shifted.

Governor Mike Pence is on the other side of this argument and he was slow to react.
He issued a statement four hours after the ruling came out expressing disappointment but, he said, his administration will respect the law.

Hoosier Survey finds overwhelming support for a Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage

November 14th, 2014 at 2:15 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Both supporters and opponents of gay marriage in Indiana are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the matter once and for all. It’s one of the findings in the WISH-TV/Ball State Hoosier Survey.

Gay marriage has been legal in Indiana for just over two months as the result of a federal appeals court ruling. That follows a battle that lasted more than a decade in the General Assembly and the Hoosier Survey found that support for gay marriage has leveled off.

47 percent favor it.  That’s down a tick from 48 percent a year ago, but it’s still a tick above the 46 percent who remain opposed.

Yet Ken Falk, the attorney for the ACLU of Indiana who led the fight for marriage equality, believes the Hoosier Survey has uncovered a temporary circumstance.

“Life has gone on without any sort of problems,” said Falk, “so I think that this is an issue in Indiana that is so new, the idea of legal marriages, that I bet your poll will change very rapidly in the future.”

Curiously, the Hoosier Survey found greater support for gay marriage in other states. 56 percent say that marriages conducted elsewhere should be recognized here with just 40 percent opposed.

Gay marriage opponent Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute said, “That’s an eye opener for me and it suggests that people are gonna be very tolerant and accepting of other state’s decisions about this thing, though it’s a controversial question.”

But here’s the most interesting finding in the Hoosier Survey: more than two-thirds, 71 percent, would like to see the U.S. Supreme Court end the legal wrangling. Just 24 percent like the status quo.

“This has been around now for a long time,” said Ball State professor Ray Scheele, “but i think people are saying it’s time to be resolved.”

That goes for gay marriage opponents. “We think we need a final answer,” said Smith.

And gay marriage supporters. “All along we thought this was an issue that should be resolved by the Court,” said Falk.

But it’s also a matter that may be resolved over time.  That’s because our survey found that the support for gay marriage is strongest among young people.

77 percent of those in the 18-to-24 age range support it.  That compares to just 30 percent for people 65 and over.

Big name Democrats join the effort to unseat Mike Delph

October 13th, 2014 at 4:50 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

GOP State Senator Mike Delph of Carmel is a target in the November Election.  Democrats believe that Delph’s vocal battle against same sex marriage will have a negative effect on his performance at the polls.

So, Delph’s Democratic opponent, JD Ford, is getting some big name help.  It started Monday with an assist from U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly.

Ford has been knocking on doors since March and Donnelly joined him in the effort to drum up votes in Carmel in a Republican leaning district.

“Actually 54%, Senator Donnelly won this district,” said Ford, “so that tells me people are independent thinking.”

“I know how hard he’s worked,” said Donnelly of Ford, “and I know because he’s worked so hard he’s right in the hunt.  He’s got a great chance to win.”

On the other side is Mike Delph who declared during the General Assembly that, “I don’t accept the lifestyle of homosexuality.  I think it’s wrong.”

As the most vocal opponent of gay marriage he engaged in a twitter tirade criticizing GOP leaders for their strategy regarding a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage.

He was stripped of a leadership post and forced to sit with Democrats as a result.

And so, with the gay marriage battle over, Ford and Donnelly are suggesting that Delph is out of touch.

“Who’s focused on making sure that kitchen table issues are being discussed?” asked Donnelly. “That we don’t worry about this social issue or that social issue.”

“A vote for my opponent,” said Ford, “is to vote for no voice because the Republicans threw him out of their own caucus.”

It’s a case that JD Ford has made at the door of 15,000 homes so far.  Tuesday John Gregg, the 2012 Democratic nominee for governor, will go door-to-door with him.

Mike Delph, meantime, declined to be interviewed for this story and didn’t respond to a text message when asked him how it feels to be a target of the Democrats.

Governor Pence ready to move on after marriage ruling

October 9th, 2014 at 5:21 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Mike Pence spoke out in person for the first time Thursday since the Supreme Court rejected the Indiana marriage case making gay marriage legal in this state.

The governor campaigned against gay marriage and spoke out in favor of a constitutional ban on it during the General Assembly.

He supported the court battle over gay marriage that ended this week, and now says that he’s ready to move on.

“I believe that the courts have spoken,” he said, “and Hoosiers who know me well know I will always believe in the importance of traditional marriage but I will always uphold the rule of law.”

He went on to say that “the Supreme Court’s decision against considering Indiana’s appeal effectively changes the law in our state.”

The governor said that people are free to disagree with court decisions but they are not free to disobey them.

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.