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February 7, 2013

State to wait on same-sex marriage ban vote

GOP legislators want to hold off until Supreme Court makes a decision

INDIANAPOLIS — Citing uncertainty about the how the U.S. Supreme Court may rule on same-sex marriage bans, Republican legislative leaders have decided to delay a vote on putting such a ban into Indiana’s constitution.

At a joint press conference Thursday, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long said each of their caucuses decided the measure should wait until the 2014 session — after nation’s highest court weighs in.

Both said that there is no predicting how the Supreme Court may rule on related cases this summer, even with the court’s conservative bent.

Noting that he was surprised that the court upheld the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, when fellow Republicans thought the court would strike some or all it down, Long said: “The Supreme Court could surprise us once again.”

Social conservatives in the legislature had been pushing hard for the General Assembly vote on the measure this year, arguing that such a vote could influence the court’s decision.

Long and Bosma, both practicing lawyers, dismissed that idea.

“I don’t think either of us found that argument compelling,” Bosma said.

The decision to delay the vote temporarily stalls a constitutional amendment process started in 2011, when the Indiana legislature overwhelmingly voted to put a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions into the state constitution. The legislature must approve the same language again this year or next, before it can be put to a public vote on the November 2014 ballot.

Bosma — dismissing polling that shows the amendment was losing support among Hoosiers — said he was confident the measure would pass in the legislature and win the public vote.

He and Long said if the legislature approved the measure this year, there’d be no way to remove it from the 2014 ballot if the U.S. Supreme Court rules this summer that such bans are unconstitutional. Elections officials with Indiana Secretary of State’s office have said the state would have no authority to remove the question from the ballot, short of an order from an Indiana court.

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