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Lehman, others seek to amend gay-marriage resolution

INDIANAPOLIS – Three House Republicans - including Berne Rep. Matt Lehman – filed amendments Monday to strike a contentious second sentence from the gay marriage ban.

A Democratic member filed similar language.

But it was unclear Monday afternoon whether the amendments would be called as both the House Republican and Democratic members went into private caucuses to discuss the situation.

Lehman’s amendment made clear the process for amending the Indiana Constitution would start again, pushing any public vote until at least 2016.

Some supporters of the proposed amendment prefer keeping the language the same so it can be voted on by Hoosiers in November.

“I’m not afraid of the calendar,” Lehman said. “If we have to start over, so be it. Let’s get it right.”

The proposed amendment says, “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.”

This language mirrors a state law already on the books.

But the second sentence of the proposal goes further, including banning civil unions in the future. It says, “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Lehman said he supports the amendment regardless, but believes the second sentence can be distorted by opponents in an attempt to defeat it in November.

Some, for instance, believe this language could stop universities and private businesses from offering health insurance to same-sex partners of employees.

For clarity, Lehman said, the second sentence needs to be removed so the key language defining marriage is not lost.