INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The Indiana Senate voted Monday to amend the state constitution by banning
gay marriage, but it will be 2016 at the earliest before the measure appears
on a statewide ballot because of a late change that limits the scope of the
By voting 32-17 in
favor of the diluted measure, senators finished the Legislature’s work on an
effort to add the state’s current gay marriage to the Indiana Constitution.
But because an original plan approved in 2011 prohibited civil unions as
well, lawmakers restarted on the process by voting last month to remove the
civil union language from the proposed amendment.
As a result, a
referendum that might that might have been held in November now much wait at
least two more years.
The Senate’s vote
followed roughly an hour of debate in public and close to three hours of
debate in private among the Senate’s Republicans. A conservative Republican
senator launched a last-minute effort to get the civil unions ban back in
the measure and have it placed on the November ballot, but failed to sway
enough Republicans during the three-hour private meeting.
Despite the fact
that a public vote would not happen until at least 2016, supporters of the
ban said they would have to settle for “half a loaf.”
“I can make a
strong case that without the second sentence (ban on civil unions), this
bill, this resolution is not strong enough in my opinion,” said Sen. Scott
Schneider, R-Indianapolis. “But at the end of the day, as we all do in this
building, we have to learn to take half a loaf, rather than no loaf at all.”
said they still were concerned a judge could step in and overturn Indiana’s
existing gay marriage ban, which is written in law, but not the
constitution. “I trust the people of Indiana more than I trust one
individual,” said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, shortly before voting
in favor of the watered-down ban.
Opponents of the
ban equated this year’s marriage fight with civil rights struggles and urged
lawmakers not to put the issue on track for the constitution at all, this
year or in 2016. Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, noted that Indiana used
to ban interracial marriage
“Do you believe
there was a time in this state where me and my wife couldn’t be married?”
said Taylor, who is black and is married to a white woman.
maneuvers on the issue allowed Republican senators to vote on the issue of
marriage without having to take a politically perilous stance on the “second
sentence” civil union ban.
completes a battle that saw social conservatives lose ground in one of the
nation’s most conservative states. Hours before the Senate voted,
conservatives were already blaming Republican legislative leaders for
keeping the marriage ban from a November vote. After more than a decade of
marriage battles in other states, Indiana became the national focus of
groups looking to protect marriage from legal challenges.
Opponents of the
ban, led by the umbrella group Freedom Indiana, noted that changing
attitudes among Indiana’s state lawmakers took extensive work and time.
“We were underdogs
in this fight from the outset, but our success reflects the strength of the
incredible coalition we were able to build in just six months,” Freedom
Indiana Campaign Manager Megan Robertson said in a statement. “Every Hoosier
who made a phone call, wrote a letter, sent an email, showed up at the
Statehouse or helped oppose (the ban)in another way should be proud today.”
The marriage ban
passed this year would now have to be approved by lawmakers during their
next biennial session, 2015-16, in its current form in order to appear on
the 2016 ballot.