Arguments about morality have been hurled from both directions in the fight over HJR3. Those who want to place the ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution argue that (their version of) biblical morality demands it; those of us on the other side–religious and not– define morality in terms of how we treat other people, and find HJR3 lacking.
There’s another “moral” question involved, however, and it is less often noted.
You might think of HJR 3 itself as a moral test being administered to Indiana legislators.
I have a good friend who is a lobbyist. He’s over at the statehouse every day, and–like all lobbyists–engages in constant conversations with Indiana lawmakers. He tells me that a fair number of those who can be counted on to vote for HJR3 know it is the wrong thing to do. They will admit–privately–that it will hurt Indiana, hurt children being raised in GLBT families, that it is bad public policy, and even that it is morally wrong.
But they “have to” vote for it because they represent conservative areas of the state. Because they might face a primary challenge if they vote their minds and consciences. Because it would be awkward explaining a “no” vote to their constituents.
My friend finds this understandable, if regrettable. I find it despicable.
Sometimes, life gives us hard choices. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we have to choose between doing what we know is the right thing and doing the easy, self-serving thing. How we act in those situations is the true test of character and morality.
Some of our legislators are truly homophobic. Others believe, for whatever reason, that gay citizens are not entitled to equal rights. They’re wrong, and most of them probably realize that they’re on the wrong side of history. But they’re voting their beliefs, however benighted I may consider those beliefs.
The truly contemptible lawmakers are the ones who know better, the ones unwilling to do what they know is right because doing so might entail some personal cost.
They fail the test. Big time.