INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Senate advanced a resolution Monday to amend Indiana's constitution to ban gay marriage. The Senate voted 42-8 to advance the resolution - one that
advocates say is crucial for protecting traditional marriage and that critics denounce as unnecessary and discriminatory.
Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Monticello and sponsor of the resolution, said marriage has never been a universal right and that government has always restricted who can marry. "This amendment does nothing to take away a right," he said.
Some said there is no need for the change because state law already bans gay marriage. Sen. Anita Bowser, a Democrat from Michigan City, said the amendment does not belong in the state constitution, which she said is a precious document. "I cry because I think that you are abusing it," she said.
Bowser said the resolution was legislating a religious agenda, and that it was part of a "heterosexual supremacy." She also said some senators were afraid to vote against the proposal for fear of losing their seats in the next election. "You're compromising your integrity for a vote," Bowser said. "Does not your conscience bother you about that?"
Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, said the proposal does not have anything to do with religion, and that the General Assembly has the right and responsibility to make a decision on the issue. "It's good for Indiana," Waltz said of the resolution. "It's good for the values I hold dear and the people I represent."
The eight votes against the resolution all came from Democrats. The resolution now moves to the House for consideration. Near the end of the 2004 session, Republicans boycotted the House when Democrats blocked debate on their efforts to ban same-sex marriage. Now that they control the chamber, they have said they will move forward the issue this year. House Speaker Brian Bosma said Monday Hoosiers should have the final say on the issue. "It's very appropriate that the voters have the opportunity to speak," Bosma said.
Amending the state constitution requires a resolution to pass consecutive, separately elected Legislatures and then be approved in a statewide election. If the proposed ban passes this year, and
again in either 2007 or 2008, it could be on the November 2008 ballot. Gov. Mitch Daniels would not have to sign off on the resolution, but was asked Monday whether Indiana needs to change its
constitution to ban gay marriage. "It very well may," Daniels said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)