Bil Browning

Doomed? Indiana Marriage Amendment Changed

Filed By Bil Browning | January 27, 2014 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Brian Bosma, gay marriage, HJR-3, Indiana, marriage amendment, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

hjr3-off-ballot.jpgAs temperatures stayed below freezing and the Indianapolis city government shut down for the day due to extreme temperatures, Brian Bosma, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, forced legislators to come to the statehouse to vote on the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual Hoosiers. Opponents of the measure also packed into the chamber with hundreds of people standing in the hallways of the statehouse.

An amendment offered by Republican Representative Randy Truitt to strip the second sentence of the legislation was passed 52-43; the chamber did not vote on the entire amendment. Passage of Truitt's amendment means the measure could possibly fail to make the ballot later this year if it advances through a full vote. If only the first sentence passes both legislative chambers, the process starts all over again and the earliest possible vote would be in 2016.

Eight amendments were originally offered to change the proposed amendment - most coming from Republicans concerned about the second sentence that would also outlaw civil unions and domestic partnerships. Many businesses, universities, and organizations have publicly opposed the amendment based on fears that it would also affect domestic partner benefits and domestic violence protections. One Republican amendment included language that the state recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of Indiana.

Republican support for the amendment dropped considerably in the past few weeks. While the legislation sailed through the previous session on a 70-26 vote, an earlier count of votes showed legislators evenly divided on whether or not to pass it with 13 legislators undecided. Republicans control the chamber 69-31.

Whether or not the constitutional amendment actually passes, the change to strip out the second sentence has been seen as a key turning point. With so many legislators reversing direction on the amendment, kicking the can further down the road only helps opponents gather more support to defeat it. It also allows time for further court rulings to settle the issue nationwide.

After the full House votes on the amendment, the measure will go to the state Senate. If the Senate passes the amendment to strip the second sentence, a popular vote will be delayed until 2016 at the earliest. If, however, they pass HJR-3 as it was originally - without any amendments - the bill will go to a conference committee where the second sentence could be restored. If it is, it could still potentially go to voters in 2014.

With public opinion on our side and a rapidly changing legal background, both Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged that removing the second sentence is effectively a death sentence for the amendment.

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