Indiana House votes to amend gay-marriage amendment

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Amid a roar of applause from the hundreds of gay-rights supporters gathered in a public gallery, the Indiana House voted Monday to strike a provision from a constitutional marriage amendment that would have banned civil unions in Indiana.

Members voted 52-43 – with 23 Republicans and 29 Democrats voting yes – to eliminate the amendment’s second sentence, which would have prohibited lawmakers from creating a legal union similar to marriage for same-sex couples.

The vote likely ensures that the constitutional amendment will not reach the public for a vote until at least 2016 – if at all. A constitutional amendment must be approved by two, separately elected legislatures to be placed on the ballot for ratification.

The amendment had been approved in 2011 with the civil unions language intact. Removing it starts the constitutional amendment clock again.

“Stripping the deeply flawed second sentence makes a bad amendment better, but we believe this amendment, in any form, has no place in our state’s founding document,” said Megan Robertson, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, a group trying to defeat the constitutional amendment.

The constitutional amendment’s remaining language defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The House could vote on it as soon as Tuesday, which would send the measure to the Senate for consideration.

There, lawmakers could reinstate the second sentence, approve the proposal as is or defeat it.

House Speaker Brian Bosma – who had moved the amendment from one committee to another to ensure it would be considered by the full House – said he will vote yes when the amendment is eligible for passage.

“I’m confident there will be a vote,” Bosma said. “We haven’t walked away from this issue at any point. My two goals announced on Organization Day and reiterated on numerous issues were, first of all, that every member vote their conscious and that the entire body get to work on the bill together. And that’s exactly what happened.

“I’m just pleased to see democracy at work in a positive way on behalf of the people of Indiana.”

Rep. Randy Truitt, R- West Lafayette, proposed the change approved Monday and it led to powerful speeches from members of both sides of the aisle – and both sides of the issue. Lawmakers’ tones were largely respectful and determined.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D- Michigan City, expressed frustration that it took until now for some legislators to realize what he called the gravity of the situation. He pointed to polls that show Hoosiers are dramatically less supportive of the constitutional amendment – and particularly the ban on civil unions – than they had been even three years ago, when the amendment passed by a vote of 70-26 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate.

“We said that it was the wrong thing to do then,” Pelath said. “Now, just because the winds are blowing in a certain direction, some more people may have seen the light. But I want the record to show, that the caucus I lead understands that this was the wrong thing to do back when it wasn’t cool.”

Pelath said he wants the people of Indiana to know who has been opposed to the resolution all along.

“I’m going to continue to remind the people of Indiana who’s been with them and who hasn’t,” he said.

Actually, three years ago, many Democrats voted for the constitutional amendment, including former minority leader Pat Bauer. On Monday, all Democrats voted to strip the civil unions language.

Still, the change could not have passed without the support of Republicans.

Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, was among those who voted for the change, saying he was choosing “to be brave” after conversations with constituents left him with questions and few answers about the amendment’s second sentence.

“It seemed like the majority of those that support this amendment admitted that they wish the second sentence was not even in there,” Mahan said. “However what I do know is that the people from my district simply ask to be able to vote to define marriage between one man and one woman, period.”

Mahan said he will now vote to pass the constitutional amendment, even if it means lawmakers will have to approve it again in 2015 or 2016 to put it on the ballot.

“This is what the majority of Hoosiers want,” Mahan said. “Lets pass the amended bill out of the House and I’ll be more than happy to come back next year to support it again and get it to the voters.”

But Republicans were split. The constitutional amendment’s author – Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero – spoke against the language change.

“I know his amendment is well-intended and (Truitt) is very much trying to be helpful with this process and move this HJR 3 along,” Turner said. “However I think his method is doing exactly the opposite.”

Turner cited examples from other states that currently have statutes defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He said that in a majority of those states, a second sentence is included to prevent marriage in another name, and that they did not affect civil unions or anything similar.

“This house joint resolution, this constitutional amendment, does not affect that, it hasn’t in other states and it won’t here,” Turner said.

And he said stripping out the second sentence opens the amendment to lawsuits and “just prolongs this debate for another 2 or 3 years.”

“We’ve been debating this for 10 years,” Turner said. “I believe the public in Indiana is very much ready to engage on this, no matter what side you’re on.”

Supporters have said that pushing the amendment debate into future years boosts the chance that it will never be approved. That’s because a number of other states have been moving in the opposite direction – approving laws that legalize same sex marriage, rather than banning them.

Also, public opinion has been steadily moving toward approval of same-sex relationships.

Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, essentially acknowledged those concerns when he urged his colleagues to leave the constitutional amendment’s language as it was in 2011 so it could go on the ballot this November.

“It’s an issue of letting the people vote,” Burton said. “All it is doing is killing a piece of legislation that we’ve all worked very hard on to accomplish.”


  • God does love you Kayla
    Kayla, You're right God does love you very much (Jesus came to rescue you and me from evil like you've endured); and even though we haven't met, I have great compassion for the terrible ordeal you went through with horrific sexual assaults. Have you ever considered those assaults may have wounded your sexuality? Especially since you haven't always felt yourself a lesbian. A man did awful things to you; that could have affected your attraction to men. Perhaps, homosexuality was a result of violence against you rather than your core identity? If that's so, healing for the acts of violence could benefit you. Regardless, I pray for healing of those terrible wounds this person perpetrated. BTW, I never have advocated treating homosexuals with anything but civility. I do not judge anyone's eternal destiny, which the Bible condemns. The Bible does in fact reveal good and evil and calls people to grapple with encouraging us toward what is good and beneficialing what is good or evil. I've only been discussing the merits of the traditional definition of marriage and the morality of homosexuality. One other point. It is not accurate that the Bible has been rewritten many times; we have more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament than any other piece of ancient literature (thousands). The science of textual criticism ensures we have a completely accurate account of the original New Testament. Even non believing scholars acknowledge that. I wish the very best for you Kayla.
  • wow
    Hello im Kayla im a lesbian haven't always been but always knew that i was different but tried to be straight. I honestly believe that everyone needs to watch the movie prayers for Bobby its a great movie and actually shows and tells you exactly what we want to tell everyone but. In the bible it tells us not to judge people But in all honesty Christianity is the biggest judgemental people there is. There is a lot of passages that can be contradicted in the bible and keep in mind every once in a blue moon the bible is rewritten. Because the bible is man made and changed since it was originally written who really knows what God really said. I know God loves me and accepts me cuz if he didn't why would he have made me? We are no different then straight people. Some women and men have reasons why they are gay. I am gay and knew since I was 14 because from the age of 11-17 I was raped by a man. Now we should be able to live lives as a regular person we just need people to believe we are regular people as well.
  • seriously?
    What about the moral decline of banking ethics? Are you planning on blaming gay people for that too? Wall Street fraud and the financial crash? Terrorism? I tell you: if you put half the energy into social justice issues that affect everyone rather than obsessing over something that doesn't, we might actually live in a better world.
  • Jack
    Jack...the citizens of the state do have the right to pass amendments. But the amendment does not come along with a pass on judicial scrutiny. Pass what you want but it is doubtful it will get by those pesky 10th and 14th amendments and most likely your treasured 1st amendment
  • Really, IBJ?
    Deleting my comment because I pointed out that Jack, who is so concerned about name-calling, has no problem calling others "immoral" and worse? Or was it deleted because I explained that marriage is conferred by the state, and not God? Or maybe it was deleted for the part where I enumerated the many ways in which we do not let various religions constrict American citizens to their individual, chosen beliefs? Who knows. Have a nice week, everyone.
  • Let's keep to the issue at hand
    I agree Me. We don't vote on everything. In our representative republic, Indiana allows for the people to vote on amendments passed by two elected legislative sessions (including the definition of marriage); I just wanted that legal process to proceed. You seem to fear that. You're right, the Bible doesn't mention homosexuality a lot, but when it does, it is hardly positive. In both Testaments, homosexuality is clearly not God's ideal for sexual intercourse; heterosexual marriage is. BTW, I never endorsed gluttony nor divorce as moral; what does pointing these out have to do with the morality of homosexuality? We all have fallen short morally because humans mess up (very much including me). That's why we need a savior. You seem to think I'm trying to insult people who are into homosexuality; I am not. I'm wanting to have an honest discussion without name-calling about how good people come to different conclusions on moral issues that do speak to world view which in turn speaks to social and governmental policy.
    • And again
      With the "why not let the people vote" thing. Jack, you need a refresher in what a representative democracy is. We, the people, don't vote on everything. Historically and especially, we don't vote on specific civil rights for specific groups of people. If that were the case, white land-owning males would still be only citizens with the right to vote. As for your "morality" arguments, homosexuality is barely mentioned in the Bible. Divorce, however, is mentioned repeatedly as is gluttony. Gluttony, not homosexuality, makes the Big Seven of Deadly Sins. Indiana ranks in the top 10 nationally for both. Our 30% obesity rate is actually costing the nation billions of dollars in health care and who knows what the costs of our rampant 50%+ divorce rates have been, both tangible and intangible. Yet, to you and those like you, the "immoral" insults and the amendments and the discriminatory laws are reserved for the mere 2% of Americans who are gay. The very definition of bigotry.
    • Al honest difference of opinion isn't bigotry
      Al from Chicago. Kind and good people can believe that homosexuality is immoral. We are not bigots. I have many gay friends whom I love. I am not a bigot. I have an honest and civil disagreement on a moral issue. Please stop calling people names and engage in the issues of why folks disagree and engage the merits of the positions in question. It doesn't help to simply call someone stupid or a bigot and feel morally superior for the name calling. It reveals a lack of thought on your part. BTW, I respect you and your rights to disagree with me; and I'm not calling you a name.
    • Let's not call names
      Social Evolution, I don't recall mentioning animals. Let's stick to what I actually said. One other clarification, the legislature is not charged nor equipped to define what is good or moral; they define what is legal. Hopefully, good and legal intersect, but that is not always the case. Our rights and morality never have come from government; the Declaration of Independence articulates and recognizes our rights come from God alone. Morality also comes from God. For those us us who are Christian, that is the life and revelation of Jesus and the Bible. For others, there are other sources for this. In the legislative process, someone's world view is behind laws. They aren't all stupid, just different. Time will reveal the good or bad in any law. Traditional marriage has born much good fruit for society (I realize many marriages end badly). But the successful ones are a great blessing. Tell you what, let's be pro-democracy here and let the voters of Indiana decide if they want to codify in their Constitution what already is the legal statute for Indiana. Why not? We're still a representative republic that allows for things like this to be voted on. Why not support allowing the people of Indiana to decide?
    • Government out of Marriage
      I agree with GM and Young Hoosier. Let's keep government out of marriage altogether. The issue for the state should be about civil unions, because that is a legal status, not a religious one. Let's allow the faith community to decide who can get married and who can't.
    • A counterpoint to Rick
      My wife and I are a professional couple who live in Chicago. I work in Indianapolis and we keep thinking about moving down there and the perceived bigotry against gay people is one of the things that has kept us from moving. Do we speak for everyone? No, but I just want to make it clear that Rick doesn't, either. For every example of somebody who thinks gay marriage is wrong, I can find one of my many friends in Indiana who disagree.
    • Rick is wrong and Mal is mistaken and presumptive.
      Since the others have already taken Rick and Mal to task here, I can avoid doing so myself this time, save to say that the two of them wrap themselves in the flag, refer to everyone who disagrees with them as the "left", and purport to know what the Founding Fathers and people who fought for our country intended and died for, when all evidence shows the contrary view to theirs to be true. Most of the Founding Fathers had no great love for religion including Christianity, and certainly wanted no state in which the church was involved...they certainly would have been horrified that the state would be trying to enter the bedrooms of consenting adults in the name of introducing one church or person's version of morality upon everyone else. As to GM and Young Hoosier, I wholeheartedly concur with what you are saying, and am tired of the debate as well...but I also understand that Rick and Mal would inflict their version of "democracy" (that is a term Rick uses often, but doesn't understand it's meaning, nor does he understand that the USA is a republic with certain democratic elements, and not a true democracy), morality and church state on the rest of us in a heartbeat, and they have a bunch of other like minded friends bought and paid for at the legislature who continue to try to advance this abhorent, un-needed and unconstitutional amendment. We may be weary of the debate, but as Edmund Burke said "all that is needed for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing". So continue to speak, and as GM has aptly wanted us all, don't be distracted by the man behind the curtain...whether it is Bosma or Pelath, none of the true issues that his state has are being addressed while this argument takes front and center...make certain they understand that you intend to remember that at election time.
    • Line Drawing
      The argument that this will lead to polygamy, marriage to children or even marriage to animals is, frankly, stupid. With respect to the latter two, marriage involves consent and neither children nor animals can consent so the similarities are non-existent. With respect to polygamy, hey, if you want to waste the time and money necessary to outlaw polygamy in the Indiana Constitution, be my guest. I'm sure you could get 100 votes on that issue. That is not, however, what we're talking about here. We are talking about gay marriage, which is a good and positive thing according to the laws our representatives, with our input, are drawing right now. It is the job of the legislature, the Governor and the judiciary to draw lines regarding what is legal and what is illegal. The speed limit is 70 instead of 75, alcohol is legal to sell in stores every day except Sunday, You're fine to drive if your BAC is .07, but not .08 and it used to be .10 and even .15. These are all moral lines our government draws through its various processes. Quit making it seem like this ruling will automatically lead to polygamy. It won't because that's the way the governmental process and society work. Plus, if you're so worried about polygamy, go ahead and focus on that rather than gay marriage.
    • shibboleths
      The old shibboleths exist only in the fevered minds of their adherents. They cannot withstand rigorous questioning and scrutiny.
    • limits
      "Age limits are arbitrary too. . . . marriage has been the unique union of a man and woman for the purpose of raising children with both gender's [genders'] influence." According to this line of reasoning, couples beyond their childbearing years should not be allowed to get married. But they do.
    • Marriage is unique
      You all say all couples should have the right to marry. What logic limits marriage to couples? Once you redefine marriage, there's no rational reason you can discriminate against polygamy or any other combination for marriage. Age limits are arbitrary too. For thousands of years across faith lines, marriage has been the unique union of a man and woman for the purpose of raising children with both gender's influence. Society gave it benefits because it uniquely benefited society. Finally marriage has its roots in faith. The government didn't create marriage; God did. Government merely recognized it. All people are now free to marry; they cannot redefine something they did not create.
    • Shaking my head
      To Rick: what you are saying does not make sense, and here is why. You are saying that the rights of people "who want to raise their families in what they consider to be a moral, traditional environment" trump the rights of others to challenge that environment. So in order to protect person 1's rights, you would have to outlaw pornography, alcohol, swearing, adultery, divorce, lying, and atheism, among other things. In other words, what you want is not possible, Rick, or logical, or even American. This is not a theocratic state; this is a country that was built on the freedom to live as you choose. Which means that sometimes other people might make you a little uncomfortable. This will happen from time to time; try not to be afraid.
    • Paraphrasing Mark Twain
      Samuel Clemons said it best: "Suppose you were an idiot. "Suppose you were a member of [the Indiana legislature] . . . But I repeat myself."
    • The Silver Lining in all of this
      Freedom Indiana is getting so much press and with big corporate and University backing, we'll be legalizing gay marriage in this state before this hateful language makes it into our constitution. I am straight but support equal rights for all. I never really paid too much attention to this issue until the state republicans decided to make it an issue and put this to vote. I am sending my money to Freedom Indiana right now.
      • Agree with GM
        Couldn't agree more, GM. The moment I had to provide an oath to some secretary in the City County Building so I could get Mike Pence's permission to marry my wife was the moment I lost all interest in the government telling me what to do.
        • Get government out of marriage
          The debate over gay marriage is a tool used by both political parties to divide and distract us from the destruction they are wreaking on our country. This wouldn't be an issue if government had no role in defining marriage in the first place. Government should only recognize civil unions, which should be allowed for all couples. Let faith leaders determine who can and cannot get married. I'm sick of this issue and the tired rhetoric from both sides.
          • The Beginning of the End of Bigotry
            Rick, Although you enhanced the force of your argument by adding the word "Period," to the end of your assertion, I think I will continue to listen to the leaders in higher education and the state's largest businesses when it comes to what is best for industry and those in the business of training future leaders. While I'm certain you have heard some anecdotal evidence from individuals who want a more conservative, anti-gay government, the vast weight of the evidence, institutional support, testimony and informed public opinion, not to mention history, logic and last night's vote, point to one simple point: You are wrong. Although straight myself, I am hopeful for the sake of human dignity, universal progress and justice that what occurred in Minnesota will occur here. Freedom Indiana will simply stay in place and move the fight from defeating a proposed anti-gay law to full legalization. The tide has turned.
          • disgraceful
            Gay marriage is not a right. Period. I strongly urge our senators to do what is right and put sentence 2 back in HJR-3. I will reiterate what I have posted many times (and have been grumped at by the left for posting) which is that I believe the passing of HJR-3 will lead to a much stronger Indiana. Many, many people are tired of having their rights trampled on by the leftist minority. I know young, professionals who want to raise their families in what they consider to be a moral, traditional environment. IF Indiana takes a stand on this issue, those folks will come here. I know several who already have fled more liberal environments. What happened last night was an absolute capitulating disgrace.
            • Mal is Mistaken and Presumptive
              Mal's opposition to gay marriage is obviously based on little more than that which he hears in the wind and his offensive and presumptuous assumptions of what our heroic military dead would think. Those brave men and women who lie in Arlington died so that the citizens of this great State and Nation, along with their elected representatives, could use their collective reason, intellect, compassion and efforts to impact the political process to progress society as they see fit. That is what happened here. If you want to rely on those with no voice like the wind or the voiceless heroic dead instead of reason and logic, well...best of luck with that approach Mal.
            • Unconscious legislators?
              Brian Bosma: My two goals announced on Organization Day and reiterated on numerous issues were, first of all, that every member vote their conscious and that the entire body get to work on the bill together. And that’s exactly what happened. So do Indiana legislators usually vote unconsciously? Wouldn't surprise me too much...
            • If you listened the other...
              ..night during the high winds, those weren't your neighbor's awning tearing, that was our national fabric being further shredded. We are intent on becoming a country of, "Do what you want, anything goes, nothing is wrong, nothing is immoral. Now, go have a joint which is legal in many states because the legislators will support anything that buys them votes." We will pay the price as a nation for destroying the tenets of societal protections upon which we were built. The men and women who gave their lives for our rights (no, that doesn't mean if we want to do it we have the 'right') are spinning in their graves at Arlington.
              • Indiana House votes
                Marriage should have nothing to do with government and it certainly doesn't belong in any American Constitution! I vote "No"
              • First
                I win. Now cue the worn out babble from both sides....

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