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Same-sex marriage battle could focus on language

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The success of a sparsely-worded constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage could hinge on whether lawmakers remove a key sentence expanding its reach, House and Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday.

The battle over gay marriage is expected to dominate the upcoming 2014 session. The state already has a law banning same-sex marriage, but some gay marriage opponents are concerned that a judge could overturn the law, so they want it enshrined in the state constitution.

The proposed amendment, if passed, would restrict marriage to being between a man and woman. But it would also further restrict the rights of same-sex couples and ban lawmakers from reconsidering the issue in the future. Those additional restrictions, which are in the second sentence of the proposed amendment, have drawn increasing concern from lawmakers.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Tuesday it might be possible to delete those additional restrictions while still sending the amendment to voters next November. But Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said legislative lawyers have advised him that an altered amendment would likely restart the state's lengthy process for altering its constitution.

Constitutional amendments must be approved in two consecutive biennial sessions of the General Assembly and then be placed on the ballot. Lawmakers have already approved the proposed gay marriage ban once but would have to do so again before it could be put to voters.

"What we've heard from (the Legislative Services Agency) is if we do that, it's likely it would not hold up in court. If we send it to the public in the fall, amended, it could be on very shaky ground," Long said.

"Why would we send something to the public we knew could be challenged in the court as unconstitutional?" he said.

The timing and strategy of dealing with the issue have become increasingly important questions. Long said Tuesday he plans to wait for the House to approve the amendment before taking up the issue in the Senate.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, both asked Bosma and Long to put off the issue for next session. They said lawmakers should focus more on economic growth and job-creation measures during the session. But Bosma has said he plans to press forward with the issue.

The ongoing debate among top lawmakers came as activists filled the Statehouse for "Organization Day", a one-day meeting typically filled with procedural and organizational matters. Volunteers with Freedom Indiana, which is opposing the amendment, spent the day talking with lawmakers.

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  • God
    Reading these comments makes me thank god.... that I moved out of Indiana. So, yeah, I guess I can't leave god out of my comments, either.
  • crystal clear
    ". . . if there is a God - and I think it's crystal clear that I believe there is . . ." Yes, Rick, it is crystal clear that you believe there is a God. Which God? Jehovah? Allah? Buddha? The fact that you may believe in a divine being does not mean anyone else has to be held accountable to anything. "We can take people's property and give to our friends . . ." Haven't you heard of eminent domain? Personal property being appropriated and given over to business interests, for example. What is your concept of God? Intimately involved in your daily life? Remote and stern? Like a benevolent grandfather? Somewhere in between? Or does your idea of God pertain only to the Christian God? Seems to me that there as many concepts of God as there are people (like opinions).
  • damage
    Hasn’t enough damage and destruction in the name of religion been done already? For thousands of years, humans have systematically killed off their own kind, usually in the name of their religion and their god.
  • Oh Rick
    Just writing "I got nuthin" would have saved you so much time. You believe in God, hooray for you. Guess what, you could go get married in every church on every street in every town in Indiana and you still would not get the financial and legal benefits of marriage until the STATE of Indiana says you are married. Get it now? Do whatever, believe whatever in your church. But marriage is a LEGAL construct and has been defined by a Supreme Court decision as one of our "basic civil rights." And that, my friend, is what America was built on, what America stands for, and what truly makes us exceptional. Basic civil rights. Have a lovely evening, everyone.
  • Me
    Nice stats. Sample size? Polling location? Counts per age group? Demographics? Confidence intervals? I'm in that age group. To your next point, I will not leave God out of my response. I believe that God is an integral part of the question - in fact, the central part. After all, if God is relegated to the role of a historical anachronism, then He ceases to be relevant. If there is no relevant God, then we are free to live out whatever kind of pagan lifestyle we choose. We can marry the same sex. We can murder babies. We can take people's property and give to our friends under the name redistribution. Put simply, we are free to make up and play by whatever rules we want. BUT, if there is a God - and I think it's crystal clear that I believe there is - then we have to be accountable. If there is a God, then we are bound by the rules He laid out for us. And, we Americans don't like to play by other peoples rules. And thus it becomes easy for us to dismiss God as non-existant. This is the crux of the current "national argument". It is why there is such division within the nation. It all comes down to a simple yes/no question: Does God exist? My answer is yes. And, so, I vote to enshrine and memorialize those hard and fast rules that I believe mankind to be unauthorized to tamper with. It's not about hate or bigotry, but love. I love you enough (as my fellow man) to prevent you from harming yourself. The amendment should pass as it is currently and originally written.
    • GOP cowards
      State GOP leaders taking the position that the rights of a minority group should be challenged to a popular vote is an abomination. For far too long, the extreme right-wing constituents of the GOP have been the only people being represented in Indiana. The time has come for moderates and those the truly believe in individual liberties to have a voice and demand represenation, especially when it comes to denying equal rights to our fellow citizens.
    • Wording
      Knowing how the wording on the ballots always are, and who is pushing for the ballot initiate, I'm sure the wording will be all about "traditional" opposite-sex marriage, with barely a word about same-sex marriage. They are going to make it sound like my "traditional" opposite-sex marriage is somehow at threat, or being decided upon, when its not.
    • tyranny of the majority (a.k.a. "democracy")
      People's rights never should be subjected to the tyranny of the majority. Right wingers have tried to force other people into bowing to their demands since time immemorial. Perhaps that is what they are afraid of: the "other." The old shibboleths no longer suffice. Would that they be consigned to the dustbin of history. And then empty the dustbin.
    • Some classic favorites
      "How dare you not tolerate my intolerance," "I'm not a bigot, I just hate a specific group for a particular characteristic" etc, etc, etc. Just for change of pace, here are some facts. Among 18-32 years olds (aka "the future"), support for gay marriage just hit 70% (aka "the majority"). That's from Gallup. A March 6, 2013, article in the Washington Post discusses recent exit polling by both parties that finds opposition to same-sex marriage is limited to an increasingly narrow group of over-65, uneducated evangelicals. And I could keep posting similar stats from similar sources, but I'm just so anxious to see your proof….
    • Bigotry? Yes or no...
      Rick (et al). Can you give us one valid reason without calling on the name of your god or your religion? Not all religions are bigotry-based, you know. And, how's that shrimp you had for dinner recently? Stone anyone to death lately for your idealized infractions? Beaten your children for "spare the rod and spoil the child..."
    • Wording
      Technically, it is neither "gay" marriage or "same-sex" marriage, it is simply marriage equality. All that LGBT individuals are asking for is EQUAL treatment, not SPECIAL treatment. As has been pointed out numerous times, within a few years, when younger voters are in charge, this will all be a moot point, and how embarrassed most of our legislators should be (assuming they're still alive). In the meantime, can we really justify the time, expense and animosity this will surely create? Is it really worth it? Also, as has been so well covered here, we should never be putting the rights of the minority up for a vote by the majority. That's just not right...
    • Me
      Me - It's not bigotry. I'm choosing to stand for my principles, my values, my religion. However, calling the opposition bigots because you disagree is highly intolerant. I thought those on the left were about all about having diverse opinions, guess I'm wrong. I firmly believe that by taking a stand against the current populist trend of gay marriage and open abortion, the state will see tremendous gains. I have met people who have fled to Indiana because of these issues in other states. Why don't you provide proof that I am wrong? How are things working out in Colorado, California, Nevada?
    • Creeper
      "tyranny of the majority"... it's the tyranny of the minority I'm most worried about. The amendment should pass, as currently and originally stated.
    • lol again
      It's absolutely staggering to me that people can't understand why we shouldn't put basic civil liberties up for a popular vote. I mean, the stupidity is honestly flabbergasting. Tyranny of the majority is exactly what this country was set up to avoid, although I'm sure the average person has no idea that is the case.
    • Because
      Rick, we don't put basic civil rights (as marriage was declared in the Loving v Virginia decision) to a popular vote. Say, are you the same Rick who was going to provide proof that enshrining bigotry in our state Constitution would create a surge of young, well-educated new residents? Whatever happened with that….
    • Let the people decide
      I always find it interesting that when politicians run for office they say it is about serving the people. We even say we have a government by the people and for the people. So with this issue an other issues, say selling booze on Sunday, why not let the people decide? Put it to a vote of the people. It a 'majority' want it then it is law. If a 'majority' do not then it is not a law. Those opposed and those far something surely can support the will of the majority.
    • lolindiana
      I don't live there anymore, and just checked this site because I had heard thisthing was poking its head up again. All I can say is that stuff like this is exactly why I left. As a previous poster mentioned, it's the only place I can think of where the same people who grandstand for the "voters to decide" on civil liberties refuse to allow a referendum on transit. Hilarious. Meanwhile, I'm living in a place where they are building a transit and pedestrian only bridge across the river and same same sex marriage will likely be lawful next year. I don't regret the decision to leave. There are a lot of great folks in Indiana, but the state has a way of refusing to leave the 1950's.
    • Why I'm a Democrat
      The same party that wants to put civil rights up to a vote is against putting mass transit up to a vote. Disgusting.
    • One way or another...
      Every article on this topic notes that the supporters believe the amendment is necessary to avoid the law being invalidated by a court. That means they know it is legally suspect, if not entirely unconstitutional under Indiana's constitution. Ironically, if a court found the law invalid under the federal Constitution, even an Indiana amendment would be pointless. So if HJR6 passes, we'll just need to challenge the law as unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. Same difference - at the end of the day, this illegal law will be overturned. The only question is how soon and by which constitution.
    • The United State of Bigotry
      Congratulations to the Legislature of Indiana! The united state of bigotry once more addresses basic human rights by inserting the head of each member of the legislature in the proverbial sand. I look forward to today's teenagers of Indiana one-day running the show, and I believe we will see the impact a good education brings to governance.
    • And Another Thing
      When will the legislature finally step up to the plate and do something to protect the sanctity of our digestive tracts from the abomination of shellfish? Leviticus tells us all we need to know about THAT subject. Yet every time I drive past a seafood restaurant, I cringe. People are inside those places consuming shellfish. I just KNOW it.
    • Titans
      The mad rush to pass an amendment enshrining discrimination into our state constitution continues unabated. Next up: Allowing a popular vote on whether to grant a minority rights enjoyed by the majority. Not next up: Allowing a popular vote on regional transit.

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