Commentary: HJR 3, Mike Delph, tragedy and farce


By John Krull

INDIANAPOLIS – The final sad absurdity of the proposed Indiana constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage put arch-conservative state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, in the position of demonstrating that even Karl Marx can be right upon



Commentary button in JPG - no shadow“(German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich) Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce,” Marx once noted.

Marx could have been speaking of House Joint Resolution 3 – the proposed constitutional gay marriage ban – that started as a tragedy and, courtesy of Delph, ended as a farce.

The tragedy sprang from the nature of HJR 3. Its supporters made the argument that Indiana had to write into its fundamental law a ban on couples of the same gender entering into contracts to love and support each other – which is what marriage is in the civil sense – in order to preserve the institution of marriage and protect children.

Such an argument springs from a premise that at best misunderstands and at worst misrepresents what constitutions are and are supposed to do.

In the most basic sense, a constitution in a self-governing society is a contract that sets forth the terms under which a free people agree to be governed. As such, constitutions generally seek to preserve the rights and freedoms of citizens – not abridge them, as HJR 3 would have done.

In America, when we have used constitutions to curtail the liberties of certain citizens – say, African-Americans or women – the consequences of such repressive measures have been both costly and tragic.

Perhaps, over time, it was the sense that this constitutional amendment ran against the grain of the American experience by limiting freedom for some, but not all, citizens that encouraged many Hoosiers to think again. And their uneasiness produced enough political pressure to encourage first the House and then the Senate to alter HJR 3 enough to delay its adoption.

Tragically, though, the lawmakers didn’t come to their senses until Hoosiers had spent several weeks snarling at each other – and gay and lesbian citizens of the state had had to contemplate the possibility of perpetual existence as second-class citizens.

As the curtain closed on the tragedy, it was time for the farce.

Delph heard his cue.

After the Senate Republican caucus last week nailed the door shut on HJR 3’s last chance to find a spot on the ballot this fall, Delph, an HJR 3 supporter, took to Twitter to begin a marathon that began first as a tirade and descended quickly to a temper tantrum.

All through the weekend, Delph railed, with geometrically decreasing coherence, about God, country, natural rights and constitutional practice. He also lashed out at weak-willed church leaders, lily-livered legislative leaders, the media, liberals and any person, place or thing that didn’t seem inclined to see things exactly his way.  For good measure, he also threatened to kick – I’ll observe decorum – someone’s posterior.

As an added bonus, he called a press conference for Monday at which he promised big news. The big news turned out to be that Mike Delph was unhappy.

Really unhappy.





(Nice to know. Thanks for sharing, senator.)

Delph could have used a point of privilege on the Senate floor to express his pique, but apparently decided that stamping his feet, waving his arms and holding his breath were more senatorial approaches.

Undignified as it was, Delph’s outburst did demonstrate a couple of things.

The first was that he outed the HJR 3 support movement without realizing it. The leading proponents of HJR 3 had taken great pains to separate their support from religious motivations, perhaps because they knew that making the measure a question of faith would create First Amendment problems.

When Delph belittled church leaders for not standing with him, though, he made clear just how much he and others expected Indiana state government to endorse and establish in fundamental law his and their idiosyncratic theology.

The second thing Delph showed was that Marx got at least one thing right.

HJR 3’s story started as a tragedy, but once the tragedy had abated, it was time to send in the clowns.

And there was Mike Delph, waiting in the wings.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  1. You’re a very creative Journalist Krull. Rather than talk about ideas or even events, you talk about people.

        • He is certainly entitled to his opinion, no debate there. However, it is questionable, is he just using his “journalist” credentials here to denigrate or is it just his opinion?

          • Nothing more pathetic and hypocritical than a bigot convention getting together to whine about their narrcisstic pompous percepetion of all the unfairness and injustices in the world.

            WAAAAAAAAAAAAY WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY we can’t demonize the gays anymore.

            It’s not socially acceptable to pick on minorities anymore and now society says we can’t smear LGBT now either.

            The icy cold death grip of white RW “christian” power and privelege is slowly losing it’s strangelhold on this country and it can’t come soon enough.

            Good riddance!!!

          • And there you have it dveatch. It’s not only Krull but it’s those like Brains also who can not engage on the issue and choose to denigrate instead.

            Marriage is no longer a state issue but is becoming federally mandated by the courts.

            Mark my words, these activist will not be satisfied until every church, baker, and candle stick maker is forced to obligate all request for same sex marriages.

          • Brains, the only bigotry being displayed is your hate for anyone who dares not conform to your religion.

            Neither dveatch or myself brought our religion into these comments, but you ran directly to your religious ideas and seething hatred.

          • If in this minor thread bigotry has raised its head it would have to be yours Brains. Your pompous perception that I have to accept your view of Christians, marriage, gays, and denigrate mine in the process causes me wonder about any civility you might have. Not that I did any of that, simply questioning Mr. Krulls use of his journalistic credentials.

            I will take that back if you forgot the /sarcasm tag.

  2. Krull is missing the most important point.

    When you are in politics in a Red State and are a Republican, you have to throw a fit and a bad spell about situations like this every now and then to keep the curiosity wolves from sniffing at your door.

    Just ask this guy:
    “The airport bathroom where Senator Larry Craig was arrested is now being renovated, and the new bathroom will have stall dividers that go all the way down to the floor. When he heard about the new stall dividers, Senator Craig said, ‘It doesn’t matter. Love will find a way.'” –Conan O’Brien

  3. Mike Delph’s “tweet-a-thon” was an embarrassment to the state. Krull’s observation that this elected official reduced a serious dispute about equality to a farce is spot-on, IMO. I would remind those who are indignant about the opinions Mr. Krull expresses that he is, afterall, an OPINION columnist, not a “reporter.”

    • ADelph has now been sanctioned by his own party. His embarrassing candidness has hurt the Indiana Republican Party and their amendment. Nevertheless, they wallow in his ignominy. Ho ho ho. He must now sit in the corner like Little Delph Horner.

    • Delph’s tweet-a-thon caused more harm to this issue than he knows. If the amendment is ruled unconstitutional, his tweets will play a major role in the ruling. There are to many idiots and emotions on both sides for this issue to ever be resolved in reasonable fashion.

  4. ‘All through the weekend, Delph railed, with geometrically decreasing coherence, about God, country, natural rights and constitutional practice. He also lashed out at weak-willed church leaders…’.

    Mike Delph is a fool. His desire to codify his religious beliefs in the Indiana constitution fell with a deserved thud. This is as close as the nutburgers get to get. We must hope A-Delph’s ‘geometrically decreasing coherence’ continues to obtain. In his perversity he has become a valuable voice for not only the bigots but more importantly for the case against HJR 3.

    Time has passed folks like A-Delph by. It is amusing to see them still flailing around, apparently unaware of how disgusting they are.

    • Bing-O, Bandana! I don’t know if anybody else caught Pence being interviewed by Chuck Todd this morning, but suffice it to say our Governor didn’t do much to clean up Indiana’s reputation on national TV.

    • There is some good news for the more civilized parts of the nation. Yesterday, the AG of Oregon announced that he would stop defending the clearly un-Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in that state. Another domino is down!

        • ….there was just a bunch of symbols in your reply.

          I’m not sure of your point.

          • …I-E, I think LKB’s point is your position has been declared indefensible by another State’s top legal official. It’s a momentum from the Supreme Court ruling on the same matter.

          • It’s a link. Oregon is considering legalized discrimination to protect businesses and religious organizations from law suits by activist. It is the next front in the fight for marriage inequality, which is something I have been saying for long time. Bad legislation gives birth to even worse laws.

          • …it’s against the law to refuse to serve customers because of their race or ethnicity. Same thing. Equal protection under the law for same-sex couples. You don’t like it the loss at SCOTUS, I get it. But you’re pretending you have some legal basis for illegal bias. It’s an easy target that deserves to be hit.

        • So a church should be forced to perform same sex marriages? I guess in Weinz world a right to wedding cakes trump religious freedom?

          It is also against the law to discriminate based on religious believes. But now the power of the government is being used to force churches, bakers, and candlestick makers to service same sex marriages. Funny how their crosses are ruled illegal for display on public property but their churches and businesses are ruled open to public domain.

          I can see not being denied basic needs like shelter, work, food, and recreation, but wedding cakes?

  5. ….

    When I read this, all I could think about was Indiana-Enoch and Delph.

    This article…about EVENTS and MEN mind you…in discussing how ridiculous and delusional Delph has become (in other words, people are walking out of the room on him) was how farcical Indiana-Enoch’s defense of his position against same-sex marriage has become over time.

    It dates all the way back to before I-E’s ban from the C&P.

    Now. He’s gonna demand quotes or references to past writings, and with over 10,000 posts at the C&P (whew!)…they would be found…alas, they were deleted forever as he was banned for inappropriate and out of control, uncivil (can you guess, biased) musings. But it doesn’t matter. Every single poster here at the CCO knows I-E’s flopping, thrashing, scratching, clawing losing defense of his writings against same-sex marriage.

    First it was I-E saying same-sex marriage was “against God” and I-E’s Bible, then it was him trying to say States rights overrule the Constitution, then it was I-E saying the Constitution didn’t grant such rights, then it was I-E saying he thought “the gays” shouldn’t get extra rights, then it was him “we should invent new law” saying marriage should be eliminated from the law so his Church would have the power to grant marriage contracts, and now I-E has descended to saying eliminating same-sex marriage bans are gonna intrude on other peoples wishes to marry others…I don’t know who or what cause he’s afraid to say it I guess…more than one person or other species?… And now that the Supreme Court RULED the bans violate the equal protection clause, with no defense left, he’s farcically posting some video of a troll rather than defend and admit a loss at the Supreme Court.

    Ruled wrong, but still steaming…I-E would rather the house burn down than stop frying his egg.

    So this article…Delph and I-E. They be mates!

    (That was fun. And accurate. And deserved.)

  6. ie you are a person with morals and ethics…….to be banned by the unethical and failing cp is in my opinion a badge of honor………

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