Rally protests Indiana's marriage amendment
Indianapolis - A rally took place Monday afternoon at the Indiana Statehouse to protest a move to regulate who can get married.
The "Equality for all Hoosiers" rally focused on SJR 6, an effort by the Indiana legislature to define marriage. Sponsors of the bill want to change the state's constitution to define the instruction of marriage as only being between a man and a woman. Opponents say it's much more than that.
"The resolution of course as it's been stated would ban marriage between anybody but a man and woman, but also would ban [the law from recognizing] relationships that are referred to as substantially similar, which could include civil unions and might even jeopardize things that are traditionally accepted by employers like domestic partnership benefits and that sort of thing. So it goes further than just banning gay marriage," said State Sen. John Broden (D-South Bend).
Broden believes the bill would "prohibit a lot more than gay marriage, and I think would go very far in terms of Indiana's ability to attract top flight employers and employees."
The resolution passed out of the House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate. Although not much work is getting done due to House Democrats' boycott, now in its fourth week, Broden says the marriage amendment is closer to being passed than it ever has been.
"I would say so. Although I believe one time it did pass both chambers but of course since this is a constitutional amendment process, it'll have to be back before it passes the 2012 election for yet another session of the General Assembly before it can be placed on the statewide ballot," said Broden.
"This is what democracy looks like and I think it looks damn good," said Patrick Roth.
A civil ceremony took place on the third floor of the statehouse as two women took their vows as partners for life.
Like many other issues, the marriage amendment has been pushed out of the spotlight by the Democrats' walkout and labor legislation. Last week a Planned Parenthood rally marked the first time in weeks that a different topic was finally being debated.
But the marriage amendment bill has already passed the House, and Broden says it's certainly something that is likely to be taken up in the Senate.
Broden said he really didn't know if the marriage amendment bill would be one of the casualties of the walkout that has halted activity in the House.
"I don't think the Senate intends to make any changes to it although it is different in language from some of those versions in the past, so that could impact whether it's a casualty or not," he said.
The rally to protest the marriage amendment bill was joined by a group back at the statehouse in support of the Democrats' walkout. That group cheered as House Speaker Brian Bosma announced again that he did not have a quorum to conduct business.
"There is seven percent unions in the private sector. The house is spending 93% of its time going after those 7% of the people. Makes no sense. Of all the issues in this state, we are going after that seven percent," said union member Jeff Combs.
Bosma says there is some optimism that the walkout will end, but it is tempered.
"I keep getting a little optimism that they are returning and then not, so we will just keep racking up the fines," Bosma said.
The House Democrats are being fined $250 per representative for every day they are not in session.