Conservatives angry at Ind. GOP leadership over fall of gay marriage ban

Conservatives angry at Ind. GOP leadership over fall of gay marriage ban

INDIANAPOLIS — Religious conservatives who lost a surprising battle over same-sex marriage in Indiana this year are placing some of the blame with the state’s Republican legislative leaders.

Opponents of amending the Indiana Constitution to add the state’s current gay marriage ban won a surprising victory when lawmakers delayed a public vote on the measure until at least 2016.

Opponents of Indiana's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage rally at the state capitol.
Opponents of Indiana’s proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage rally at the state capitol.

Supporters of the ban struggled to regain their footing this session after a bipartisan group of House members stripped a civil unions ban from the measure, in a move that pushed back the soonest a public vote could happen.

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana and one of the lead supporters of the gay marriage ban, said supporters were told by Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma they were on solid footing just two days before the measure was knocked off track in the House.

“We were told right up until two days before that (House) amendment vote that everything was fine, it was going to fly out of the House,” Clark said.

Bosma said he never promised the ban would pass through his chamber unaltered or make it to the ballot this November.

“The only assurance I gave anyone this year was that the whole House would deal with the issue, and every member would have the opportunity to vote their conscience. And that is exactly what happened,” he said.

The ban’s failure to make it to the 2014 ballot was a surprising turn of events in Indiana, just three years after bipartisan majorities approved the measure with the civil unions ban. Indiana had become a national battleground for the issue in 2014, after most other states had approved their own constitutional bans or legalized gay marriage in some form.

Supporters of the ban found themselves being largely outgunned this year, by a highly-organized and well-funded group of opponents. Members of the opposition group Freedom Indiana packed the Statehouse routinely, wearing red to signify their opposition.

It was not until the measure was taken up in the Senate this month that supporters of the ban began arriving en masse to the Statehouse. But efforts to restore the civil unions ban and place the measure back on track for a November public vote stalled in private meetings of the Senate Republican Caucus.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, blamed Senate leadership for keeping the issue from the ballot. Senate President Pro Tem David Long has said he did not try to influence anyone’s vote and only wanted the ban to be considered by the full Senate.

“Republicans by their leaders within the Indiana General Assembly were told that the Marriage Amendment would move quickly and that the voters would get a chance to vote in 2014 and the issue would be resolved once and for all whichever way the public ultimately voted,” Delph said in a Statehouse news conference.

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