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Jul 10 2013

This is descending into farce

One of the odd things about the state of politics is that the views of politicians almost always lag behind that of the voters since it takes time to throw out an incumbent who longer represents the views of his or her constituency. But usually the views of voters on major issues change slowly enough over time that this discrepancy is not glaring.

Not so with same sex marriage. Here the general opinion is shifting so rapidly that we now see politicians in office who were swept into office less than ten years ago when opposition to it was high now out of touch with current opinions but still thinking that they represent the majority view. This causes them to take actions that seem ludicrous.

Take what the state of Indiana just did, where the Republicans have amended the criminal code the Republican party in Indiana appears to “have amended the state criminal code to either make it a crime, or confirm that it remain a crime, for clergy to conduct weddings for gay couples.”

The problem is that many religious denominations and individual congregations allow their clergy to ‘bless’ or otherwise provide some degree of solemnization for same-sex couples, even if the state does not allow them to legally marry. But now “The amendment to the criminal code, which will go into effect on July 1, 2014, makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000 for clergy “solemnize” a marriage of two men or two women.”

So the Republican-controlled state legislature of Indiana, normally vocal defenders of ‘religious freedom’, are now limiting the freedom of religious institutions. I wonder what will happen if some clergy go ahead and blesses a wedding anyway. Will they really prosecute them and throw them in jail?

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Robert B.

    That’s… just blatantly against the first amendment. Well, in combination with the one that makes the bill of rights binding on the states. Outlawing a religious ceremony? It’s so obviously unconstitutional I bet the Supreme Court won’t even bother to hear it, they’ll just let the slam-dunk lower court ruling stand.

  2. 2
    CGM3

    Wait, I thought it was the clergy who refused to perform same-sex marriages that would be imprisoned. Did I miss a meme change or something?

  3. 3
    Mano Singham

    We are living in a rapidly changing and confusing world!

  4. 4
    Chiroptera

    Next thing you know, you won’t be able to baptize dead people!

  5. 5
    Alverant

    “So the Republican-controlled state legislature of Indiana, normally vocal defenders of ‘religious freedom’, are now limiting the freedom of religious institutions.”

    Republicans only defend freedom if they agree with what you’re doing. That’s what freedom is to them, freedom to be like them.

  6. 6
    eigenperson

    I feel sorry for the lawyer who has to defend this one.

  7. 7
    robertbaden

    I think I’ll check Snopes over the next few days on this one.

  8. 8
    eigenperson

    The piece Dr. Singham linked to quotes the actual Indiana state code. All you have to do is read it.

  9. 9
    jamessweet

    Yeah, it’s real. And it’s stunning… good luck finding a judge anywhere who wouldn’t immediately overturn this on First Amendment grounds.

    I mean, by god, even some anti-marriage equality conservatives are up in arms about this, because it’s such a blatant violation of freedom of religion:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/indiana-fails-religious-freedom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indiana-fails-religious-freedom

  10. 10
    sailor1031

    Back in the day I couldn’t graduate from college in Illinois until I had taken a class and passed the tests on the subjects of the US and Illinois constitutions. I’m thinking it’s long past time that such a test was a requirement for political office – not to mention police and supreme court judges! Unlike a religious test it wouldn’t be unconstitutional.

  11. 11
    Corvus illustris

    IANAL, so you need one to weigh in on this because technical terms may be involved. Due to fallout from the Reformation in England, we have “marriage licenses” in the US, and “ordained clergy” are “licensed” to marry people. (I find this anomalous given the first amendment, but ok, leave that point.) You would have to know what “solemnize” means at Indiana law. If it means “hold a religious (or analogous) ceremony,” Indiana has a first amendment problem. If it means “represent the unlicensed ceremony as a marriage according to secular Indiana law,” there may have been a similar law about 2-sex marriages already on the books: I believe there exist similar laws that have passed constitutional examination.

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