Public AffairsPolitics / January 14, 2014

Opponents Talk Children, Voting In Franklin College Marriage Debate

John Sittler - TheStatehouseFile.com
Opponents Talk Children, Voting In Franklin College Marriage Debate

The president of an Indiana family institution said Monday that the decision over the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage should be left up to the residents of Indiana.

But Jane Henegar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said it’s not right for Hoosiers to put the rights of their neighbors up to a vote.

The discussion was part of a debate hosted Monday night at Franklin College that featured Henegar and Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute.

Both echoed many of the sentiments heard on the House floor Monday, while also adding some of their own opinions.

Henegar opened the discussion by saying passage of the amendment would be a “permanent stain” on the state constitution. She would come back to this phrase often throughout the night, as she urged the General Assembly not to pass House Joint Resolution 3.

Smith lobbied in favor of the amendment – and its accompanying House Bill 1153. He said it’s time to let Hoosiers decide the “role marriage should play in our state’s great life.”
“I trust Hoosiers,” he said.

But Henegar said it would be “foolhardy and harmful” to pass legislation she said is very unclear. She echoed many House Democrats who have said it is unnecessary to pass a 73-line bill to explain a 16-line amendment.

She said this demonstrates HJR-3does not contain language that should be put into the state’s constitution. And she said she is not alone in this belief.

“The majority of Hoosiers agree this is not the way we should deal with same-sex marriage,” Henegar said.

The two speakers also addressed how same-sex couples – and parents – affect children in Indiana.
Smith said families are the “frontline” and it’s “undebatable” that children do best when raised by both their mother and their father. He said he wants to “elevate and lift up” all Hoosier children, and that he wants to also “reinforce and expand” the culture of marriage in Indiana.

He then asked what he called a “tough” question.

“What does a same-sex couple say to that child when they come and say ‘Where’s my mommy?’ or ‘Where’s my daddy?’,” Smith said.

Henegar said that the parents would respond the same way a heterosexual couple would answer the questions of an adopted child.

The debate concluded with both parties thanking Franklin College for the opportunity, and urging voters and legislators alike to think carefully about their decisions.

John Sittler is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.