It was just last week That I posted about anti-marriage equality, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, and his staff, deleting pro-marriage equality comments from the governor’s Facebook page. The governor called the deleted comments uncivil and rude, but the ones I found were anything but, making Pence, and Indiana, seem kinda hate-filled against The Gays.
But that was just the beginning, I guess.
Now, it appears that a same-sex couple applying for a marriage license in Indiana, where same-sex marriage is against the law, could be arrested and jailed for up to three years simply for submitting a marriage license application to their county clerk; even if the license is denied.
See, up there in Indiana is an old law from 1997 state law that says it’s a Class D felony to submit false information on a marriage license application or lie about the physical condition, including gender, of a marriage license applicant.
So, if two men, or two women, who wished to marry—or just fill out an application in protest—their signing of the application would trigger the law, because Indiana’s electronic marriage license application specifically designates "male applicant" and "female applicant" sections for gathering required background data.
Now, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that anyone could be arrested for filling out a marriage license application and writing a man’s name in the ‘female applicant’ section—or even vice versa for a lesbian couple—but It is against the law in Indiana where the governor remains virulently anti-marriage equality.
And, there is a recently approved reform of the state's criminal code will, starting July 1, 2014, that will drop the crime to a Level 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of just 18 months in prison and a potential fine of up to $10,000.
Big deal, eh?
The odd part of this bass-ackwards law is that a county clerk who ignores Indiana's same-sex marriage ban, by issuing a license to a same-sex couple, would face minimal punishment. The same law that makes it a felony to submit false information on a marriage license application declares it only a Class B misdemeanor—punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000—for a clerk to issue a marriage license based on that false information; and, because the charge is not a felony the clerk would not face removal from office upon conviction.
It’s a felony to submit false information, but it’s a lesser crime to act upon the false information, even when you know it to be false.
Indiana is set up for a marriage equality fight next year over whether to add its existing marriage equality ban to its state Constitution. The GOP-controlled General Assembly will decide during the January-March 2014 session whether to submit the proposed constitutional amendment—which also bans any form of civil union, you know, just in case—to voters for ratification.
If lawmakers approve the amendment, supported by Governor Pence, then the matter will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.
Letting the majority decide what the minority can, and cannot, do.
The good news is that, right now, many Indianans are opposed to amending the state Constitution with discrimination. But, still, in Indiana you have a governor trying to manipulate the conversation on marriage equality into his favor, and you have laws that would jail same-sex couples who fill out an application for a marriage license.
Not good, Indiana, you can do better.