Indiana lawmakers met yesterday to decide the next year's agenda for the state's legislative body. Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers, but party leaders have announced that the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions will not be a priority in this session.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, a longtime political supporter of an amendment who once belligerently proclaimed an amendment to be "the most critical piece of the people's business," and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, also an amendment supporter, announced yesterday that they will allow the proposal to be heard, but they will leave it to their caucus to decide the bill's fate.
"This is not the most important issue facing us by far," said Bosma, R-Indianapolis, who said he still favors the gay marriage ban. "We have to deal with the issue with dignity and respect ... and bring this 12-year discussion to a conclusion."
For the past few months, Long, R-Fort Wayne, and Bosma, R-Indianapolis, have avoided discussing their plans for the proposed amendment. The measure already passed the 2011 legislative session by wide margins in the Republican-dominated House and Senate.
Long said he's not going to dictate what happens on this issue and will let his members decide.
None of the leaders made predictions about the amendment's passage but Long said it's a good assumption the vote won't be as lopsidedly favorable as the Senate's 40-8 vote in 2011.
Many Republican leaders have started to question the wisdom of advancing the amendment. A handful of legislators have announced a change of heart after previously voting in favor of it and Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard has repeatedly condemned the amendment as unnecessary and divisive. In a bipartisan vote, the Indianapolis City Council overwhelmingly approved a proclamation denouncing the proposed bill and major Republican donors like large businesses and commerce organizations have announced their opposition and financial support for anti-amendment efforts.
If the measure is passed in the upcoming session, it would go to a public referendum in November 2014. With so much money and grassroots organizing being poured into killing the bill in the legislature, Republicans know that the amount spent to fight the amendment at the ballot box would be extraordinary. The extra turnout by a motivated younger base of voters would only help Democrats and could cost Republicans their majorities. The official state Democratic Party platform includes opposition to the amendment and support for LGBT rights.