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January 10, 2013

Language to Indiana’s proposed same-sex marriage ban amendment

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana General Assembly has started the process that would amend the Indiana state constitution to include the state’s current ban on same-sex marriage. The proposed amendment would also go a step farther by prohibiting recognition of civil unions.

The proposed amendment, filed as House Joint Resolution 6, reads: “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

The process of amending the Indiana constitution involves several steps: Any proposed amendment must be passed by the Indiana General Assembly in two consecutive legislative terms. The General Assembly approved HJR 6 in 2011; the exact same language in the resolution would have to be passed by the legislature again this year or in 2014 for the proposed amendment to go to a public referendum in 2014.

Some Indiana legislators want to pause the process while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the issue of same-sex marriage. The court has agreed to hear challenges to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

The court likely will hear the cases in March, but not rule until late June — after the General Assembly concludes the 2013 session in April. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on a series of questions, including one of the most basic: Can states ban gay marriage, or does the Constitution protect that right for all couples?

— Maureen Hayden, CNHI Statehouse Bureau

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