INDIANAPOLIS – The controversial gay marriage amendment will get a hearing in front of the Senate Rules Committee early the week of Feb. 10.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, announced the move Thursday, which went against statements he made last week when he was adamant the bill would go to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Long said he did not think the proposal would stall there but that the Rules Committee was more representative of leadership in the chamber and a better place for it to proceed.
The Indiana House narrowly passed the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage last week after deleting a second sentence that would have banned future civil unions as well.
Long said it is his preference that the amendment remain the same in committee but that any changes can be offered in the Senate on second reading. None will be blocked.
He would not say how he personally feels about whether the second sentence should be restored.
“I’m going to keep my powder dry on that right now.”
Some supporters want the second sentence put back in so that Hoosiers can vote on the proposal in November. If it isn’t restored, the amendment would have to be passed again by the legislature in 2015 or 2016 and would not go to the voters until 2016.
“It’s a matter of when, not if,” Long said.
Megan Robertson, campaign manager for the bipartisan Freedom Indiana coalition fighting the proposal, didn’t agree with Long that it is a foregone conclusion the amendment will eventually pass two separately elected General Assemblies.
She pointed to how much support the amendment lost in the House since 2011, going from 70 yes votes to 57.
“After this session there’s not much appetite to do this,” Robertson said, noting public sentiment is shifting quickly.
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, of Anderson, said he thinks Judiciary would have been a better fit for the amendment because of its legal implications but didn’t necessarily disagree with its assignment to Rules.
He did say, though, that the process in the House was tainted by procedural moves and that won’t happen in the Senate.
“We avoid those types of shenanigans,” Lanane said.
He also believes the Constitution should be used to protect rights – not discriminate against people. If the amendment is passed, he predicted the United States Supreme Court could strike it down for violating the U.S. Constitution.