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Ind. House approves amended version of proposed same-sex marriage ban

Senate approval could 'restart the clock,' pushing a public vote back two years to 2016
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
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AJ Mast, APIndiana state Rep. Eric Turner speaks during debate on a proposed amendment to the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage in the House of Representatives at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

AJ Mast, AP
Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner speaks during debate on a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage in the House of Representatives at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House has voted in favor of an altered proposal that would ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution, while leaving the door open for civil unions and employee benefits for same-sex couples.

The House narrowly voted 57-40 Tuesday in favor of the measure. The proposed ban now heads to the Indiana Senate, where members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to take up the issue.

“The future of marriage belongs in the hands of Hoosier voters; not judges, not the media, not activists, not lobbyists,” said Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, and the author of proposed ban.

On Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers narrowly approved altering the proposed constitutional ban to remove language that would ban recognition of civil unions or anything “similar” to marriage for same-sex couples.

That section of the amendment had become a sticking point for many legislators who otherwise support the ban.

The vote followed weeks of uncertainty for a measure that swept through the General Assembly with ease just three years ago.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, took the unusual step last week of moving the measure to a more conservative House committee after it became apparent the measure might not pass the committee.

But he washed his hands of the measure Monday night, shortly after members of his own caucus joined with House Democrats to change it.

Supporters of the ban had sought to keep the measure intact in order to place the measure before voters this November.

The House measure approved Tuesday could potentially reset the clock on Indiana’s lengthy process of amending the constitution. Under the amendment process, the same measure must be approved in two consecutive sessions and then by voters.

If the Senate passes the version of the bill approved by the House, then the proposal will have to be approved by the next legislative session (in 2015) before going to voters (in 2016).

However, Senate Republicans could still restore the original language; the House would then have to agree to that original version in order to put the measure on the ballot this year.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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