The Washington Times-Herald

State News

February 3, 2013

Maureen Hayden: GOP leadership noticing public’s changed attitude on same-sex relationships

INDIANAPOLIS — If GOP leaders in the Indiana General Assembly announce this week, as expected, that they’re postponing a vote on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions, you can expect them to cite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to step into the larger issue later this year as the primary reason.

But that explanation doesn’t tell the whole story.  

Increasingly, the conservative Republicans who control the Statehouse are picking up on the evolution in the public’s thinking about same-sex relationships, reflected in a series of recent polls.

And they especially don’t want to alienate younger voters who find the GOP’s traditional anti-gay position on same-sex marriage to be downright weird.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to weigh in on two same-sex marriage cases provides some convenient cover. Since the court’s ruling on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional isn’t expected until July, long after the Indiana Legislature is out of session, Republican leaders can argue that it’s wise to wait.

They’ll say they can always revisit the issue if the court doesn’t rule against such bans, and still have the 2014 session to decide whether to send the proposed amendment on to the public for a referendum vote in November 2014.

And, since same-sex marriage is already illegal in Indiana, they can say there’s no immediate threat to the “traditional” family.

But they know what the polls are showing — and how different they are from a few years ago, when the GOP thought a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was a sure-fire way to get their supporters out to vote.

They got a glimpse of it last October, when the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll showed only 45 percent of Hoosier voters would support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Among younger voters, the percentage was much less.

Ditto for the results from the 2012 Hoosier Survey done by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University in December. That poll found that while Indiana residents are evenly split on the question of whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, 54 percent are against putting a ban on it into the state constitution.

A national Gallup Poll last November, taken right after Republican Mitt Romney’s crushing defeat, showed more than half of Americans — 53 percent — think that same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid.

That’s up from 40 percent in 2008, and up from 35 percent in 1999. The Gallup poll also showed that among young voters aged 18-29, 73 percent support same-sex marriage. And almost a third of them identified themselves as Republican.

During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, then-GOP candidate Mike Pence said he favored amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage (as did his Democratic opponent John Gregg.) But both were out of step with their party platforms: the state Republican Party removed the same-sex marriage ban from its party platform last spring, and the state Democratic Party, for the first time, came out against the ban.

Now that he’s in office, Gov. Pence is sidestepping the issue, which is another signal of the waning political appeal of the amendment. When asked about it, Pence repeats his mantra that Hoosiers want him to keep his focus — and that of the General Assembly’s — on more important issues, like improving education and creating jobs.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • Our view: Throw open the doors

    As allegations and scandals continue to explode about hidden wait lists and cooked books at VA medical care facilities across the country, with hints of even more heinous findings to come, we have to wonder why it's business as usual in our nation's

    May 29, 2014

  • nws-gb011714 Land Zeppelin 2 (front page pic) Inventor hopes Bike Zeppelin takes off GREENSBURG - A local civil engineer has created a Zeppelin-shaped apparatus that allows bicyclists to ride in the rain without getting wet. Greensburg resident Jim Gorman remembers the day that inspiration struck: Nov. 22, 2011. It rained all day, an

    January 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Legislator pushes for public disclosure of former meth homes INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Wendy McNamara knew methamphetamine was a scourge on her district in southwestern Indiana, but the damaging effects of the drug really hit her when she met a real estate appraiser who’d suffered lung damage after visiting a

    December 14, 2013

  • Bird statue to be unveiled in Terre Haute Serving double duty as a baseball infielder for the American League's Toronto Blue Jays and basketball guard for Brigham Young University, 20-year-old Danny Ainge found time in March 1979 to drive from Provo, Utah, to Salt Lake City to catch an in-pe

    November 5, 2013

  • news school bill.jpg Pence announces school safety grants

    Flanked by fourth-grade members of the Ambassadors Club and student council at Cedar Elementary School here, Gov. Mike Pence announced more than $9 million in grants for schools statewide to enhance their security.

    November 1, 2013 1 Photo

  • Coats returns home to listen to Hoosiers INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats returned home to Indiana this week, hoping to turn the political conversation away from a failed GOP strategy that partially shut down the federal government and toward what he sees as more critical issu

    October 24, 2013

  • Congressman standing firm on government shutdown

    Todd Rokita of Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District has been an outspoken opponent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — a k a Obamacare — since it was signed into law in 2010.

    On Tuesday, the first day the federal government partially shut down in 17 years, the Republican congressman wasn’t backing down.

    October 1, 2013

  • Laws that carry automatic loss of driver's license under review INDIANAPOLIS -- The legislative study committee that proposed the massive rewrite of Indiana's felony code will soon take on another tough issue: The automatic penalty that causes thousands of Hoosiers to lose their driving privileges for committing

    September 19, 2013

  • Gingerich_AP PHOTO.jpg Prison sentence of 12-year-old prompts new juvenile sentencing law

    Three years ago, when 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich became the youngest person in Indiana ever sent to prison as an adult, his story gained international attention and sparked questions about whether children belong behind bars with grown-up offenders.

    June 14, 2013 2 Photos

  • Supt_Ritz 1 .jpg Ritz orders independent analysis of ISTEP results

    Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has hired an outside expert to determine the validity of ISTEP+ test scores of nearly 80,000 students who were kicked offline while taking the high-stakes standardized test.

    June 10, 2013 1 Photo