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Monday, January 27, 2014

Ind. Law - "Gay union ban advancing: Amendment eligible for House vote this week"

In her story this weekend in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, headed "Gay union ban advancing: Amendment eligible for House vote this week," reporter Niki Kelly writes:

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW, said Bosma made a tactical error not counting noses in the first committee it was assigned, a failure that has made the process unnecessarily messy.

Downs also said one of the most interesting things about watching the amendment has been seeing some lawmakers reconsider their decision from three years ago.

In Indiana, changing the state Constitution requires that two separately elected General Assemblies pass a measure before it goes to the voters for final approval or defeat.

The first legislative vote was in 2011. A vote this year sends it to the ballot in November. But philosophies on gay marriage have recently been shifting. And some members are analyzing whether their first vote was the best way to go.

“That reinforces why the process for constitutional amendments is slow and arduous,” Downs said. “So we don’t make decisions in a heated moment. We are seeing exactly what the framers wanted.”

The next big moment is whether the House votes to change the language on second reading.

The proposed amendment says “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.”

This language mirrors a state law already on the books.

But the second sentence of the proposal goes further, including banning civil unions in the future. It says “a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Several Republicans think the second sentence goes too far and have expressed a desire to remove it. But no one has promised to offer an amendment to do so. * * *

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath said he knows some Republicans in the House want to offer an amendment to remove the sentence “but I don’t know what the consequences for those members will be.

“The Democratic members don’t have anything to fear from the speaker,” he said. “When you get within a caucus it becomes a little more difficult to stray from the herd.”

Pelath has prepared an amendment to remove the second sentence but said he and his caucus will have to decide whether it will be offered.

He called it a tactical decision, noting it might be easier to defeat the proposal in the legislature or at the ballot box in November with the language considered confusing and unnecessary remaining. * * *

Removing the second sentence is especially controversial because it most likely restarts the constitutional process – something Bosma and Gov. Mike Pence have vocally been against.

There are differing legal opinions but most people believe any change to the language would delay a public vote until 2016.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 27, 2014 09:43 AM
Posted to Indiana Law