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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ind. Law - "House amends HJR-3, possibly delaying referendum"

Tony Cook and Barb Berggoetz report in a long story today in the Indianapolis Star:

In an atmosphere of rapidly shifting opinions on gay marriage, nearly two dozen Indiana House Republicans bucked their leadership to strip a same-sex marriage ban of the clause opponents find most objectionable.

The House voted 52-43 to remove the proposed constitutional amendment's second sentence, which would have banned civil unions and similar arrangements. That leaves only the first sentence, which would still ban gay marriages.

If the altered version is adopted by both chambers of the General Assembly, the measure would not go to voters this November as supporters — including Gov. Mike Pence — would like. The full House is expected to vote Tuesday on the altered resolution, which might not make it to voters until 2016. * * *

"Obviously, this is a great night for our campaign, and we're extremely excited to have the second sentence taken out," said Megan Robertson, campaign director for Freedom Indiana, a coalition working against the amendment.

But, she added: "Getting rid of one bad sentence doesn't fix the whole bill."

Opponents of the measure acknowledge they still have a fierce uphill battle ahead of them. The odds of defeating what's left of the amendment remain long, and they still face the prospect of the Senate reinstating the ban on civil unions in a renewed effort to send the issue to voters in November.

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, who was the only Republican to vote against the measure in 2011, said the vote to take out the second sentence was "a little stronger than I expected."

"It's the first real hard evidence of the shift that's been taking place," he said.

Indeed, backers of the amendment see Indiana as ground zero in the fight to turn back a tide of judicial opinions and votes to legalize gay marriage. * * *

The change of heart among some rank-and-file Republicans stands in contrast to the party's state leaders.

In recent weeks, the governor, a Republican, has used several high-profile appearances to reiterate his support of traditional marriage and to press lawmakers to resolve the debate this year.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, went so far as to remove the measure from a committee where it seemed doomed to fail and reassign it to a more favorable committee.

Although 23 House Republicans joined Democrats to change the amendment, Bosma said he doesn't see the vote as a defeat. * * *

The changes made Monday will likely make it easier for the measure to pass the House on Tuesday. From there, the altered version will go to the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tempore David Long said last week that his chamber would honor the version it receives from the House. But once it reaches the full Senate floor, "it's open to amendment, so a reverse could happen," he said, suggesting that perhaps the second sentence could be re-inserted.

See also this long Jan. 27th story by Maureen Hayden, CNHI Statehouse Bureau, titled "Some Republicans distancing GOP party from marriage amendment." Halfway though the story Hayden reports:
A year ago, the state Republican Party dropped its support for the gay marriage ban from its platform, though Republicans nationally still support “traditional marriage” in their platform. [Craig] Dunn said the decision reflected polling and a growing awareness that the amendment was polarizing among Republicans whose opinions on the issue were evolving.

Dunn is a member of the state Republican Central Committee, which helps shape the agenda for state and federal legislators. Last fall, the committee overwhelming refused to endorse the gay marriage ban during a private meeting, Dunn said.

Still, it was given legs by Republican legislators, who’ve made it a priority and once staged a walkout when the House’s then-Democratic leaders refused to call the bill.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 28, 2014 10:12 AM
Posted to Indiana Law