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Indiana GOP leaders push same-sex marriage battle to 2014

Thursday, February 7, 2013
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Updated: 2 p.m. ET.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Republican House and Senate leaders said Thursday they will wait a year before they take up an effort to write a gay marriage ban into the state’s constitution.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long said their respective caucuses decided the issue should wait until the 2014 session.

Long, R-Fort Wayne, and Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said they still support the amendment and believe it will win approval from lawmakers and voters, but they are wary of taking on the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on related cases this summer.

“It’s inadvisable to even have that discussion at the moment, despite the importance of the issue, until the Supreme Court has given a red light or a green light,” Bosma said.

Social conservatives in the House and Senate had pressed them to tackle the issue this year.

The first case before the Supreme Court involves California’s constitutional amendment that forbids same-sex marriage. The second concerns a federal law that denies gay couples who legally marry the right to obtain federal benefits available to heterosexual married couples.ssue before the Supreme Court rules on related cases this summer. Social conservatives in the House and Senate have pressed them to tackle the issue now, rather than waiting a year.

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Gay marriage is currently allowed in nine states — Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington— and the District of Columbia.

Indiana lawmakers approved the constitutional ban in 2011 despite arguments from opponents that it was unnecessary because state law already limits marriage to being between one man and one woman. Supporters of writing the ban into the Indiana Constitution have said a judge could approve gay marriage by overturning state law.

Under the state’s constitutional amendment process, lawmakers have until next year to consider putting the marriage ban before voters. The measure must pass the Legislature again before it can be put on a ballot.

Thursday’s decision means supporters of gay marriage and benefits for gay couples can rest easy for a year. Indiana Equality Action President Rick Sutton thanked Bosma and Long following the announcement.

“We’re pretty happy today,” Sutton said.

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