Revised gay marriage ban passes Indiana House, 57-40 - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Revised gay marriage ban passes Indiana House, 57-40

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Curt Smith and Megan Robertson Curt Smith and Megan Robertson
INDIANAPOLIS -

Indiana House lawmakers have passed an altered proposal that would ban gay marriage in the state constitution, 57-40. The measure now moves to the state Senate.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers narrowly approved altering the proposed constitutional ban Monday evening to remove language that would ban recognition of anything "similar" to marriage for same-sex couples. That so-called "second sentence" of the amendment had become a sticking point for many lawmakers who otherwise support the ban.

What a difference a day and another vote can make.

"We're certainly discouraged by the vote today," Peter Hascom with Freedom Indiana said after Tuesday's vote.

Monday's celebration after the House decided to remove HJR-3's second sentence banning civil unions was short-lived following Tuesday's vote. The revised amendment leaves the door open for civil unions and employee benefits for same-sex couples.

The House approved the amendment after hours of debate.

"This is not, as it stands, something that will end today or tomorrow and that is to vote down the resolution in its present form," said Rep. Ed Delaney (D-Indianapolis).

"I think we should allow the voters, the public, to have a say in this serious, major changing decision," said Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy).

"We have not dismantled this bomb, we have simply placed a longer fuse before it detonates in all of our faces," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath.

Supporters of the amendment, discouraged by Monday's changes to the proposal, were encouraged by Tuesday's passage.

"Obviously, we'd like to restore the language...the language that was taken out last night, so we'll talk with our senators about that and see if they're open to that," said Curt Smith, Indiana Family Institute.

Opponents of same-sex marriage may be the only ones, though, presenting their case.

"We're sort of turning the cannons straight to the Senate," said Hascom.

The Senate, where HJR-3's fate as at least as far as November 2014 goes, could be decided in the very near future.

Supporters of the proposed ban have sought to keep the measure intact in order to place the measure before voters this November.

"I think the second sentence particularly gave a lot of people a lot of heartburn. It goes way too far; way further than it ever needed to go. Frankly we would much prefer to see the whole thing go away and die today and not go any further, but taking that second sentence out was important to our group," said Megan Robertson, Freedom Indiana, speaking on Eyewitness News at Noon.

"We think it's important both legally and just from a policy point of view to say that marriage is a unique and distinct institution. We're not gonna have marriage-like things - civil unions, domestic partnerships. So that second sentence was really the scaffolding or the reinforcement of the first sentence," said Curt Smith, Indiana Family Institute.

Smith added, "I think it's right for Indiana to affirm marriage and say we want to be a state that advocates marriage and that's gonna be an important part of our public policy mix. Marriage is about raising the next generation and we want to see Hoosiers thrive and prosper, and the best thing for kids it so have both the Mom and the Dad," said Smith.

"We want to see everybody thrive and prosper in Indiana. This amendment tells certain people that they're not welcome here. That's certainly not Hoosier hospitality. There's already a law that says that marriage is between one man and one woman. Why do we need a constitutional amendment? Our group thinks we don't and apparently a lot of Hoosiers agree," said Robertson.

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