INDIANAPOLIS – A move to put a gay marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution passed the Indiana House 57-40 on Tuesday, shifting the debate now to the Indiana Senate.
House Joint Resolution 3 received less Republican support this year than in its 2011 vote, with 11 GOP members opposing the measure and no Democrats in support.
The amendment now mirrors state law, after House members on Monday removed a second sentence that would have also banned civil unions. That pushes a possible public vote on any amendment until 2016.
But if the Senate restores the provision, Hoosiers could vote on the amendment in November. That chamber likely wont take up the matter until the week of Feb. 10 due to legislative deadlines.
Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the measure will be referred, declined to comment Tuesday.
The proposed amendment now says, Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.
Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said that without the constitutional amendment, the state runs the risk of a state court changing the will of the people, the will of the legislature.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the state law in 2005, and the Indiana Supreme Court declined to take the case.
Turner also challenged arguments that businesses will not be able to recruit top talent by saying that eight of the nine states with the highest rate of private-sector job growth have constitutional amendments concerning marriage.
Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, said the constitutional amendment doesnt protect Indiana from a federal court interceding as it has in other states.
He also said that no church can be forced to bless marriages it doesnt approve of.
I was so proud last night that this body fought, considered, deliberated and made a tough decision, Delaney said of the House removing the second sentence. This is a tougher decision. I think the right decision is to end this now, not spend the rest of the year tearing ourselves up, tearing our public up.
Three area representatives voted against the bill – Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, and Reps. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, and Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse.
Heuer said much has changed in her district since she supported the constitutional amendment in 2011, with her constituency now pretty evenly split.
She is bothered that the Indiana Constitution calls for equal privileges and believes the proposed amendment goes against that fundamental principle.
I voted no to show fairness and equality, and I voted no to show I can keep my oath of office to support and defend the constitution of our state. Today I am supporting our constitution, the framework of our government that limits the powers of government and affirms the rights of the people.
I voted my conscience, Heuer said.
Pressure immediately moved to the Senate. The Family Research Council Action joined the Indiana Family Institute and the American Family Association of Indiana in calling on senators to restore the second sentence.
Yesterday the Indiana House of Representatives disenfranchised voters who expected their elected officials to respect the right of the people to decide the future of marriage, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.
This is why the state Senate must restore the amendment rather than leave the future of marriage in the hands of activist judges. Freedoms are on the line.
Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, supported the constitutional amendment in 2011 and is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will first be tasked with handling the measure.
I didnt like the second sentence. I think its much cleaner without it, she said.
But Glick is unsure what will happen to the resolution in the chamber, saying that if the provision is restored, its unclear whether the House could even pass it.