INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House of Representatives
approved a proposal Tuesday that would place the state's gay marriage ban
in the state constitution, while leaving the door open to eventual
approval of civil unions.
The proposed ban, which cleared the chamber on 57-40 vote, now heads to
the Indiana Senate, where members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are
set to take up the issue.
The vote followed weeks of uncertainty for a measure that swept through
the General Assembly with ease just three years ago.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma worked hard to shepherd the ban
through the start of the session. But he washed his hands of the measure
Monday night, shortly after members of his own caucus joined with House
Democrats to change it.
House lawmakers removed a sentence in the proposed ban that would have
banned civil unions and potentially barred employers from providing
benefits to same-sex employees. Republicans who joined with House
Democrats to alter the measure expressed concerns that the ban went too
far by barring future approval of civil unions.
However, that alteration potentially pushes back the soonest the measure
could go before voters to November 2016. Indiana's constitutional
amendment process requires the same measure be approved in two consecutive
two-year sessions of the General Assembly then be placed on the ballot for
consideration by voters.
But legislative attorneys counselled Republican leaders that altering the
language of the ban would likely require lawmakers to give it a second
approval when they convene their next two-year session.
The question could easily become moot, however, depending on what the
Senate does. Senators have the ability to amend the measure back to its
original form. If senators restore the measure to its original form, they
could set the ban back on track for an appearance on November's ballot.