Indiana state House approves constitutional ban on same-sex marriage


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a measure to create a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The bipartisan vote was 70-26.

The proposed amendment would also prohibit civil unions, stating that any legal status “substantially similar” to marriage for unmarried people is not valid.

The vote took place after less than 30 minutes of debate.

The Evansville Courier-Press reports:

“The basic unit of society is the family, and the cornerstone of the family is marriage. Marriage is, and should be, the union of one man and one woman,” said the gay marriage ban’s author, Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion.

Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan, D-Indianapolis, called the ban “a blow that hurts thousands across this great state, and taints our constitution with the language of hate,” and said she has friends and neighbors who are “deeply, deeply hurt by this legislation.”

The bill now heads to the State Senate, where it has passed several times in recent years — previously, it has been in the State House where the measure failed, but until this year, the House had been controlled by Democrats.

If approved by the Senate this year, the proposal must be considered and approved again either in 2013 or 2014. If passed by the General Assembly a second time, the measure will be placed on the ballot in November 2014.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, urged the Indiana Senate to reject the bill.

“Constitutions should be respected as shields of fairness for all, not used as weapons to discriminate and harm,” Wolfson said.

Same-sex marriage is already prohibited under Indiana law, but proponents of the bill say the ban is necessary to prevent a situation like the one in Iowa, where in 2009, the Iowa State Supreme Court unanimously overturned the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage, declaring it unconstitutional.

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