Same sex marriage amendment vote postponed

Feb 8, 2013

Leaders in the General Assembly are postponing  action on a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.  They say it’s the U.S. Supreme Court causing the delay.

After easily passing the General Assembly in 2011, the proposed marriage amendment requires passage by the legislature again either this year or next before potentially landing on the 2014 election ballot for ratification by voters.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says, with the U.S. Supreme Court expected to decide on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans this summer, his caucus decided not to move forward this year.

“We think it’s prudent to wait because we have 2014 to vote on it and if the Supreme Court gives the states a clean bill of health, makes it a states’ rights decision – as it very well might – then we will be able to move forward with any questions about the constitutionality of this provision.”

Rick Sutton, executive director of Indiana Equality Action, says his organization opposes the amendment and applauds what he says is a courageous decision by the legislature.

“We think it’s prudent, we think it’s smart.  We think waiting until the Supreme Court is finished is the right thing to do, so we’re glad it happened.”

Long says there were a few members of his caucus who wanted to push forward this year, but the majority opted to wait. 

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says there also is general agreement among his members to hold off on the amendment this year.

“There are a few folks that, you know, would like to see it move forward this year, but I think everyone agrees that it’s advisable to hold at the moment and to let the Supreme Court do its work.”

National opinion on the issue of gay marriage has appeared to shift in recent years, with three states approving same-sex unions in November’s election.  Even though recent polls show only about half of Hoosiers now support the state’s existing law making marriage solely between a man and a women, there’s likely enough support in the Indiana General Assembly to pass the resolution a second time and allow voters to choose whether to add the language to the state’s constitution.

However, even as he announced Thursday he wouldn’t pursue the bill this session, Bosma professed a different reading of the numbers.

“HJR 6 is still supported by a majority of Hoosiers significantly. That’s my statistical analysis of it and it’s proven to be correct in the past and I think it continues that way.”

Sutton leads a coalition of groups in opposition to the amendment.  While praising the legislature’s decision to hold off action this year, he says his organization is still gearing up for a fight.

“If you love politics, you love time.  And I think any time we had to convince 150 legislators that HJR 6 is the wrong thing to do, that’s the time we want on our side.  Time is our friend.”

Sutton says if the General Assembly approves the amendment next year, he believes Hoosier voters will ultimately reject it.