(Undated) - Many are wondering how Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage will affect marriage laws in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.
They won’t really. The court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act only affects federal benefits of same-sex couples. The court declined to decide on California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, leaving the gay marriage question to the states.
The three states are among 29 where their constitution bans gay marriage.
In Indiana, the state constitution already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. However, Hoosier voters could decide on a constitutional amendment strengthening the state’s ban in 2014. Lawmakers have to approve the amendment, House Joint Resolution 6, next year before it can go to the ballot.
Governor Mike Pence, a conservative Republican, issued a statement yesterday saying he was disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA, but was glad to see the decision left to individual states.
“These decisions preserve the duty and obligation of the states to define and administer marriage as they see fit,” Pence said. “Now that the Supreme Court has had its say on the federal government’s role in defining marriage, the people of Indiana should have their say about how marriage is understood and defined in our state.”
Indiana House Minority Leader Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) said he is embarrassed that there are still people pushing for marriage inequality in light of Wednesday’s rulings.
“A number of states now have marriage equality. From them, we have learned several things. Families remain important. People still practice the Golden Rule. And folks have a lot greater concerns than who loves whom,” said Pelath.
Like Pelath, Indiana Equality Action President Chris Paulson is hoping that state lawmakers will ditch HJR 6.
“Whatever the General Assembly decides, we will be prepared either to support their decision to abandon HJR-6 or to fight the amendment in every community across our state. Hoosiers value kindness and love, and we all deserve to live in a state that doesn’t write inequality into its Constitution,” Paulson said.
In Kentucky, voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“This is a great day for our Commonwealth and our country as we move closer to equality for all people. Though this will have little direct impact on Kentucky citizens, it does provide a well deserved slap on the face to Kentucky lawmakers to allow the citizens of this Commonwealth to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage again in Kentucky,” read a statement from Marriage Equality Kentucky.
A spokesperson for Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the governor was currently reviewing the Supreme Court opinion.
Ohio voters approved a similar amendment in 2004, but a group called FreedomOhio says it is pursuing a 2014 ballot issue to repeal it. Sixty-two percent of Ohio voters supported the 2004 amendment.
The Supreme Court rulings were called a “game changer” for Ohio same-sex couples by Elyzabeth Holford, Executive Director of Equality Ohio
“This is a huge step in the right direction. It is recognition of loving, partnered families. It allows for the dignity of recognized relationships. We’ve still got work to do for full equality here in Ohio, but today we joyously celebrate,” Holford said.
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