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Ind. House Democrats weigh two plans to derail proposed gay marriage ban

Saturday, January 25, 2014
Indiana state capitol in Indianapolis.

Indiana state capitol in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — House Democrats will consider two different strategies to derail the effort to place a same-sex marriage ban in the Indiana Constitution, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath said Friday.

The House Elections and Apportionment Committee set the stage for a battle over the proposed constitutional amendment earlier this week when it voted 9-3 along party lines to send the measure to the House of Representatives. The House could open debate on the proposed ban, titled House Joint Resolution 3 or HJR 3, and consider amendments to it as soon as Monday.

House Democrats – a potentially powerful minority – will look at either amending the proposal or letting the measure be voted down, said Pelath, D-Michigan City.

Pelath said he has prepared an amendment that would remove the so-called “second sentence” of the proposed ban, which bans civil unions in addition to gay marriage.

“Whether I offer this amendment is a decision I am going to have to make in consultation with our caucus members, but the goal is the same: Let’s get (the ban) set aside,” he said.

The second sentence is a sticking point for many lawmakers, including some who have said they otherwise support banning gay marriage. Opponents have focused their efforts on striking the language, arguing it could go so far as barring employers from offering benefits to same-sex couples – a charge supporters of the measure deny.

“If they’re going to insist on moving this thing forward, let’s at least get that monstrous language out of there,” Pelath said.

Removing the sentence could also reset the clock on the state’s lengthy constitutional amendment process, pushing back a public vote on the issue to 2016.

Lawmakers must approve any amendment in two consecutive two-year sessions, then send an amendment to voters for approval. The General Assembly first approved the constitutional ban in 2011 and would have to sign off on it a s econd time this session to send it to voters this November. But altering the language of the amendment would most likely restart the process.

The second approach would be “simply letting HJR 3 die under its own lumbering, brontosaurus-like weight,” Pelath added.

Pelath’s announcement came as Senate leaders announced preparations for the gay marriage fight. The focus through the start of the session has been squarely on the House, but HJR 3 cleared a major hurdle with the successful House committee vote and greatly increased the chances of advancing the measure to the GOP-controlled Senate.

If House lawmakers approve the measure, it would head toward a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee next month, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Friday.

“I do think it should be on the full floor of the House and Senate for full discussion. It’s an important issue, and it’s one that’s gotten an amazing amount of attention from media and s tatewide and Hoosiers everywhere,” Long said. “I think it deserves a full debate.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, raised howls from opponents this past week after he dislodged HJR 3 from the House Judiciary Committee, where it appeared likely to die, and placed it in the more conservative House elections committee.

Indiana is one of a handful of states that bans gay marriage in statute but not in its constitution. Supporters of the constitutional amendment say it is needed to stop a state judge from potentially overturning the existing ban.

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15 more reader comments:

  1. let them………new rules from Supreme Court soon, hopefully will trump all the hatred.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:15pm
  2. They are protecting gay marriages--like mine.

    Replied on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 11:21pm
  3. It is really too bad we cannot outlaw their vile religions!!! Truly, the founding fathers never saw a time when the religious would be so powerful to strip civil rights from Americans.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:18pm
  4. they’re wanting to derail-stop the plans to PUT a same sex marriage ban in place… not to have one in place or put one in place

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:19pm
  5. Brian Bosma is a homo hot and bothered closeted bottom btch.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:22pm
  6. Time to protest and demand equality occupy the state offices !

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:27pm
  7. i would let it go to the polls like it is….. the second sentence will kill it

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:32pm
  8. Letting it go to the polls means TEN MONTHS of a full-on damaging public assault on LGBT people and our families. Just listening to the testimony of the proponents was like getting pummeled by the schoolyard bully, only this was state-sanctioned bullying! In states that have passed these amendments, there was a 248% increase in anxiety disorders among LGBT people! We MUST stop this in the legislature!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:43pm
  9. Robert Cuthbertson actually religion can be outlawed. Congress and the states can amend the constitution, we just need enough votes. Christians have no problem changing the constitution to fit them. Perhaps eliminating religion should be our long term plan.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:57pm
  10. What’s happening in Indiana right now is at disturbing variance with the Hoosier values I recall from my time there. Back in that Jurassic time, Hoosiers lived and let live, and didn’t get themselves hot and bothered about whether Ruth and Naomi were keeping company or whether Jonathan and David were an item. I guess the preachermen have co-opted Indiana and destroyed its values.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 8:33pm
  11. How about NO BAN? Someone needs to consider that!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 9:53pm
  12. Thats such bullshit

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 11:58pm
  13. Bravo Scott Pelath- at least he has been working to defeat this. I want the entire amendment gone nit just the second sentence. It should not even be an issue!

    Posted on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 12:38am
  14. F them

    Posted on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 2:38am
  15. It’s discremation be gone with trying to do,that

    Posted on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 3:04pm