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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ind. Law - "Pared gay marriage ban OK’d by House: It’s Senate’s call whether to restore civil union sentence"

That is the headline to Niki Kelly's HJR 3 story in today's Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Some quotes:

The amendment now mirrors state law, after House members on Monday removed a second sentence that would have also banned civil unions. That pushes a possible public vote on any amendment until 2016.

But if the Senate restores the provision, Hoosiers could vote on the amendment in November. That chamber likely won’t take up the matter until the week of Feb. 10 due to legislative deadlines. * * *

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

Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said that without the constitutional amendment, the state “runs the risk of a state court changing the will of the people, the will of the legislature.”

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the state law in 2005, and the Indiana Supreme Court declined to take the case. [ILB: Actually, that is incorrect, the parties did not seek Indiana Supreme Court review - see this post from Feb. 18, 2005.] * * *

Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, said the constitutional amendment doesn’t protect Indiana from a federal court interceding as it has in other states.

He also said that no church can be forced to bless marriages it doesn’t approve of.

“I was so proud last night that this body fought, considered, deliberated and made a tough decision,” Delaney said of the House removing the second sentence. “This is a tougher decision. I think the right decision is to end this now, not spend the rest of the year tearing ourselves up, tearing our public up.” * * *

Pressure immediately moved to the Senate. The Family Research Council Action joined the Indiana Family Institute and the American Family Association of Indiana in calling on senators to restore the second sentence.

“Yesterday the Indiana House of Representatives disenfranchised voters who expected their elected officials to respect the right of the people to decide the future of marriage,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.

“This is why the state Senate must restore the amendment rather than leave the future of marriage in the hands of activist judges. Freedoms are on the line.”

Barb Berggoetz and Tony Cook of the Indianapolis Star have this story. Some quoes:
Opponents of the same-sex marriage ban now face an even bigger uphill battle in the Indiana Senate, after the amended version of the constitutional ban passed the House by a 57-40 vote on Tuesday.

Passage of the revised amendment was expected in the House following Monday’s vote to eliminate the amendment’s second sentence, which also banned civil unions.

The change made House Joint Resolution 3 more palatable for some wavering House Republicans. But the change is likely to face a more critical eye in the Senate, where efforts to re-insert the second sentence are likely to emerge.

In 2011, the amendment — including the civil unions ban — passed the Senate by a 40-10 margin. No Republicans voted against it. Since then, the body has changed only slightly. Three new Republicans and one new Democrat started their terms in 2012.

Now, the Senate has 37 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Recently, a couple Republicans have voiced reservations about the amendment. But, unlike in the House, none has openly said they are against it.

Supporters of the amendment began lobbying senators immediately following the House vote. They want the second sentence re-inserted.

“Retaining the second sentence makes the first sentence much more likely to survive a legal challenge,” said Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, a group that supports the ban. [ILB: Really?] * * *

If the Senate approves the House version of the resolution, a statewide referendum on the gay marriage ban likely would be delayed until 2016, because a new General Assembly probably would have to approve it again next year.

Supporters of the ban, including Gov. Mike Pence, wanted it on the ballot this November. That could still happen if the Senate restores the second sentence and the House goes along with the change. * * *

During Tuesday’s debate on the House floor, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said alterations to the amendment “have not dismantled this bomb, we simply have placed a longer fuse on it before it detonates in our faces.” * * *

Rep. Matthew Piece, D-Bloomington, argued the constitution is intended for defending the rights of minorities and this amendment would do the opposite. He said a referendum in Germany in 1930 on whether Jews should have equal rights likely would not have passed.

“We shirk our responsibility when we say, let’s just let the people decide,” Pierce said. “We don’t want to be a conveyor belt of constitutional amendments just to move them along.”

The Indianapolis Star has an editorial today titled "Let’s finally end the distraction of HJR-3." It writes:
The protracted debate over this amendment, first passed in 2011, already has been an enormous waste of time and energy. It’s time to set it aside, and to tackle the challenges that stand in the way of growth in our state.
But it gives no clue as to how to accomplish that.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 29, 2014 10:00 AM
Posted to Indiana Law