History repeats itself, and that's one of the things that's wrong with history, Clarence Darrow, the great if often unpopular criminal defense attorney, reportedly said.

History has certainly been repeating itself in Indiana in recent months, which is one of the things that's wrong with our state. .

Though in fairness, Indiana is not alone in it's unwillingness to respect the fact that, unpopular as it may well be with what we have come to believe is a distinct minority of residents, same-sex marriages deserve the same legal protection as marriages of mixed races now receive.

You will recall that 50 years ago there was quite an uproar, in Indiana and elsewhere, over court rulings that held the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution granted equal protection to couples of different races who wanted to wed — that states could not deny a couple a license to marry based solely on the fact that the color of one person's skin differed from that of their intended spouse's.

Today, nearly 50 years after the state law banning mixed-race marriages was repealed, there are still residents of Indiana who oppose them, who cite Scripture to justify their opposition to what "interventionist judges" did back then.

We suspect that in the future, 50 years after the inevitable overturning of the state's ban on same-sex marriages, there will be those who will stand on Biblical principles when then stating their opposition to that particular court ruling.

Biblical principles aside, the question of whether a marriage license may be issued to a same-sex couple is a civil matter — both in terms of the law and how we treat one another.

There are legitimate reasons for a state to deny certain couples a marriage license, but those reasons are narrow in scope — and neither the race nor the gender of the applicants should qualify.

The legal protections that marriage provides to couples cannot be limited in a general way merely because, for the moment, a legislative majority is biased against the sexual orientation of some of those who seek such protections.

Fifty years ago there were also such majorities, legislators who were pronouncedly biased against whites and blacks sitting down together to eat at the same lunch counter, sitting beside one another watching the same movie, drinking from the same water fountain, attending the same school, worshiping in the same church — and, of course, marrying one another.

The 14th Amendment, born out of the greatest civil unrest in the nation's history, spread the rights and protections of the Bill of Rights into the states, there to ooze on down to the local level: we are citizens of the United States, not citizens of the State of Indiana, not the City of Vincennes.

As history has repeatedly shown us, the expansion of rights and protections is no easy thing.

Nor should it be.

But it is inevitable.

Most of us, we believe, are long past the notion that discrimination, as a position, warrants the effort it takes to maintain.

This past week, the first same-sex marriage in county history took place, a brother performing the ceremony for his sister and her spouse, in his office at a law firm that dates back to a time when slavery was alive and well, even in Vincennes.

There was something suitably symbolic in that.

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