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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 05
Indiana legislature delays anti-marriage amendment till 2016
Section One
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Indiana legislature delays anti-marriage amendment till 2016

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Republican-controlled Indiana state House of Representatives has effectively delayed an anti-marriage equality amendment till 2016.

On January 27, the lawmakers voted to amend the bill under consideration, known as HJR-3 - striking the second sentence of the measure, which would have banned any legal recognition for same-sex couples that was 'identical or substantially similar' to marriage.

According to Zack Ford at Think Progress, many legislators felt that language was too extreme, and could interfere with benefits for domestic partners or future civil union legislation.

The amended bill was then passed on January 29 by a vote of 57-40. By passing an amended bill, the legislature set back plans to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot this year.

According to Associated Press, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma worked hard to shepherd the ban through the start of the session, but he washed his hands of the measure after members of his own caucus joined with House Democrats to change it.

Indiana law says that constitutional amendments must pass two separate sessions of the state legislature with precisely the same language before they are put on the ballot for a popular vote.

A version of the amendment including the section deleted on January 27 was passed in 2011, and if the same version had passed in the current session, the measure could have proceeded straight to the November 2014 ballot. But the measure as amended now becomes a totally new bill, and therefore must be re-passed in the session beginning next year, which means it will not reach the ballot before 2016.

The bill now goes to the Indiana Senate. If Senators pass the legislation in its original form, and the House then votes to accept the Senate version, it could be back on track for the November ballot.

Freedom Indiana, the state's largest LGBT organization, said they were 'incredibly grateful to members of the House - Democrats and Republicans - who did the right thing today by striking down this deeply-flawed and harmful clause.'

'But we haven't won yet,' the group added. 'HJR-3 is still alive, and in order to ensure that it stays off the ballot - or at the very least, that the second sentence stays removed - we have to work harder than ever in the Senate, starting right now.'

Freedom To Marry called the legislature's action 'a welcome step back from the brink.'

'This offers the possibility that Indiana's families will not be subjected to a harsh campaign and offensive ballot-measure that would add cruel and unconstitutional language to Indiana's state constitution,' the group said in a statement.

'The support that we saw today from Indiana legislators - including Republicans - and the success in achieving this vote reflected the growing momentum for the freedom to marry the person you love, and a repudiation of the effort to strip Gay Hoosiers and their families of all legal protection and respect.'

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