House approves amendment to proposed same-sex marriage ban

Opponents of the amendment rallied in the lobby outside the House Chamber Monday.
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The Indiana House has approved an amendment to a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The House voted 52-43 Monday to remove the second sentence from the proposal, which would have banned civil unions. The sentence had become a sticking point for lawmakers, including some who had otherwise voiced their support for banning gay marriage in the state.

Opponents say the language of the second sentence could prevent employers from offering benefits to same-sex couples.

"Today's vote is a huge victory. We are now one significant step closer to keeping this divisive amendment off the ballot this November," Freedom Indiana wrote in a release.

"We are encouraged by the House vote to amend the second sentence in HJR-3 as passage of this resolution would harm our efforts to attract the best and brightest to the Indianapolis region," wrote Michael Huber, president and CEO of The Indy Chamber. "The Indy Chamber, along with fellow opponents of HJR-3, commit to remain vigilant to ensure this amendment is soundly defeated and encourage the General Assembly to focus on urgent economic issues including education, workforce development, infrastructure, and fiscal policy."

Twenty-three Republicans joined 29 Democrats to strip out the second sentence.

The proposed amendment will now get a third reading in the House, with the earliest vote coming Tuesday.

The resolution got a second reading in the House Monday after passing through a committee last week.

Opponents of the amendment showed up at the Statehouse early Monday to lobby undecided lawmakers.

As written, the amendment would have defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman and would not recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships. At least seven amendments, including several by Republican lawmakers, were offered to the bill ahead of the second reading Monday afternoon.

The amendments could help win support, but could also delay the process for another two years.

The Generations Project, which represents seniors and those with disabilities says amendments or not, they still oppose the amendment.

"No group of Hoosiers, whether they're gay or black or seniors or disabled or rural or urban, nobody in this state should have a constitution that discriminates against them," said John Cardwell, Generations Project.

"This shouldn't even be being discussed and we'd certainly rather kill it in a straight up-and-down vote, but again, there's a lot of ways to kill a bill and we're going to do our best to kill it here however we can," said Megan Robertson, Freedom Indiana.

Earlier Monday, the Indianapolis Bar Association announced their opposition to the proposed amendment.