News and Tribune

Clark County

January 28, 2014

Indiana House passes constitutional gay marriage ban

State Senate could chose to reverse amended version of bill

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers pressed ahead Tuesday with an effort to outlaw gay marriage under the state constitution, but the version that cleared the House wouldn’t be able to take effect until 2016 at the earliest because of a late change leaving open the possibility of same-sex civil unions someday.

The proposed ban, which the House approved 57-40 Tuesday afternoon, now heads to the Indiana Senate, where members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to take up the issue.

“The future of marriage belongs in the hands of Hoosier voters; not judges, not the media, not activists, not lobbyists,” said Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, and the author of proposed ban.

The vote followed weeks of uncertainty for a measure that swept through the General Assembly with ease just three years ago. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, took the unusual step last week of moving the measure to a more conservative House committee after it became apparent the measure might not pass the committee. But he washed his hands of the measure Monday night, shortly after members of his own caucus joined with House Democrats to change it.

House lawmakers removed a sentence in the proposed ban that would have banned civil unions and potentially barred employers from providing benefits to same-sex employees. Republicans who joined with House Democrats to alter the measure expressed concerns that the ban went too far by barring future approval of civil unions.

However, that alteration potentially pushes back the soonest the measure could go before voters to November 2016. Indiana’s constitutional amendment process requires the same measure be approved in two consecutive two-year sessions of the General Assembly then be placed on the ballot for consideration by voters.

But legislative attorneys counseled Republican leaders that altering the language of the ban would likely require lawmakers to give it a second approval when they convene their next two-year session.

The question could easily become moot, however, depending on what the Senate does. Senators have the ability to amend the measure back to its original form. If senators restore the measure to its original form, they could set the ban back on track for an appearance on November’s ballot.

House Democrats delivered emotional pleas in opposition of the ban Tuesday afternoon. Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said the ban reminded her of the discrimination she faced as the first woman to join the Hammond police force decades ago.

“Discrimination is an ugly, mean thing,” she said. “There’s absolutely no reason that anybody in this world should be discriminated against.”

But Democrats were unable to ply Republicans quite the same way as they had just a day earlier, when 23 Republicans joined House Democrats in removing the section of the ban that would bar civil unions.

Eleven House Republicans — including state Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, joined with 29 House Democrats in opposing the measure, but 57 Republicans delivered a strong margin of victory for supporters of the proposed ban, House Joint Resolution 3.

State Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, was excused from the vote.

Stemler said he’s out of town on personal business. He said the trip was scheduled and approved by the speaker of the house in November 2013.

“Had they gotten that joint resolution out of the original house committee and onto the floor last week, I would have been there. It’s really just a timing issue for me,” he said. “I would have voted to remove that second sentence.”

“I think [the vote] is just indicative about how much the mood has changed and how seriously each legislator is taking this issue in trying to listen to their constituents.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints

LOCAL MAGAZINES
Easter 2014 photos


Click on any photo to purchase it.

LOCAL STATISTICS
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.