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Gay unions ban handed to caucuses

Legislative leaders will not dictate amendment’s future

– Republican legislative leaders said Monday that members of their respective caucuses will decide on the future of the constitutional amendment against gay marriage and civil unions.

Both Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said it is not the most important issue facing the General Assembly and they will not play dictator on the matter.

“It will be an internal decision on our part based on a collaborative discussion,” Long said.

And Bosma said any movement on the proposal would have to be done with respect and civility.

“We can’t call people ‘bigots’ or ‘sinners’ or whatever,” he said. “We have to deal with this and work though it together as Hoosiers and bring this 12-year discussion to a conclusion in one direction or the other.”

It was the first public statements from the GOP leaders on the contentious ban in months. They came at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative preview luncheon.

Republicans have strong majorities in both the House and Senate and will determine the future of the measure.

Lawmakers passed the language to amend the Indiana Constitution in 2011 but it takes another vote by the Indiana legislature to send it to Hoosiers for approval or defeat on the November 2014 election ballot.

Democratic legislative leaders also spoke on the matter.

Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said he stopped the amendment three times when he was in the majority and he thinks that additional time has given people an opportunity to review and change their opinions on the matter, as evidenced in recent polls.

And Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, pointed out the economic development angle in which businesses around the state are asking legislators not to act because it will make it harder to attract a diverse, quality workforce.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar repeated that the chamber is not taking a position on the issue. He said after extensive discussion with the executive board no consensus has been reached.

But he said if it is addressed by the General Assembly he expects it will happen quickly in the session, which starts. Jan. 7.

Bosma said later there are no plans to fast-track the resolution.

“It will go through the same process as every other bill or resolution,” he said.