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February 1, 2013

Ballot question may slow down same-sex marriage ban amendment

Some state leaders want to wait on U.S. Supreme Court’s decision

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

Amending the constitution is a three-step process in Indiana. The General Assembly took the first step in 2011 when it voted overwhelmingly to put a ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions into the state constitution. 

The legislature has to vote again on the exact same language, either this session or next year, for the third step to occur: Putting the question on the November 2014 ballot for a public vote. 

If the legislature votes for the amendment now and the U.S. Supreme Court rules in July that such bans are unconstitutional, Indiana would still be obligated to put the question on the November 2014 ballot. 

Valerie Kroeger, a spokeswoman with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections, said it would take an outside party filing a lawsuit to get a court order to remove the question from the ballot. 

An increasing number of Republican legislators who voted for the amendment in 2011 are coming out either in direct opposition to the amendment or calling for a delay on it until after the Supreme Court weighs in. 

Proponents of the amendment, including the Indiana Family Institute, are pushing Indiana lawmakers to vote on the amendment this session. They argue that such a vote would send a strong message to the U.S. Supreme Court and could affect the court’s decision.

Opponents of the amendment believe they’d benefit from a one-year delay, given the shift in public opinion on the issue. A delay would give them more time to convince Indiana lawmakers that public support for a constitutional ban is waning.

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