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Report: Marriage move would have ripple effect on 600 Indiana laws

INDIANAPOLIS – More than 600 Indiana laws relate in some way to marriage and family – and could be impacted by a constitutional amendment regarding gay marriage – a report released Monday by Indiana Equality Action found.

Indiana state law already limits marriage to between one man and one woman. But supporters want the law inserted into the constitution so judges can’t later overturn it. State courts have already upheld the law once. The proposed amendment specifically says, “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

The second sentence would ban future legislators from enacting civil unions in the future, and might affect a host of other laws. The General Assembly must approve the measure again in 2013 or 2014 before Hoosiers would get the final say on the matter with a statewide vote in the fall of 2014.

A recent statewide poll conducted by Howey/DePauw University found that 48 percent supported the amendment and 45 percent opposed. The rest were undecided.

The new report – by the LGBT Project at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – cataloged hundreds of provisions detailing the rights and responsibilities of marriage in the Indiana Code.

The list of laws regularly mentions families, spouses and marriage.

“What is clear from this compendium is the extent to which Indiana law uses civil marriage as a way to classify, grant rights to, and impose responsibilities upon couples and families in 614 ways. We hope that it serves as a resource for examining how legislative action around marriage can affect all Hoosier couples and families,” the report said.

The report also noted “whether one supports or opposes such a proposal, knowing what is involved in something as enduring as an amendment to the Bill of Rights in Indiana’s highest legal document is critical to enlightened public discourse and decision.”