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Panel backs Indiana gay marriage ban amendment

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Gay marriage would be banned in Indiana and the state would be barred from recognizing civil unions under a proposed constitutional amendment approved Wednesday by a state Senate committee.

On a party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the plan 7-3 after Republicans rejected arguments that a clause prohibiting civil unions could threaten the ability of employers to offer domestic partner benefits. The bill was sent to the full Senate for debate.

State law already bans gay marriage, and the statute has been upheld by state courts, but amendment supporters said a constitutional change would prevent future courts from overturning the ban.

Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, said he didn't understand why lawmakers wanted to prevent future state Legislatures from considering whether to allow civil unions. Broden also echoed concerns from business leaders, including Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. and Columbus-based Cummins Inc., that the amendment could hurt their ability to recruit employees and prevent them from providing health insurance and other benefits to same-sex couples.

"I have no confidence that we aren't banning domestic partnership benefits here," Broden said.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said the measure wasn't meant to affect any benefits offered by private companies — or by state universities or local governments. Kruse said health benefits for domestic partners haven't been prohibited in the 30 states with similar constitutional amendments on marriage.

"It has not happened any place in the United States and there's no reason to think that's going to happen in Indiana," he said.

The committee rejected, along party lines, a proposal from Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, that would have limited the constitutional ban to same-sex marriages and left the door open for future recognition of civil unions. Lanane said it was a middle road, arguing that the public was becoming more accepting of civil unions.

But if attitudes are changing about gay marriage, countered Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, then amendment opponents shouldn't fear the question going before voters for a statewide referendum.

That could be at least three years away. If the proposed amendment is ultimately approved by the Legislature this year, the House and Senate would have to approve it again in either 2013 or 2014 before it could appear on the 2014 ballot.

Opponents plan to continue arguing that the amendment is unnecessary and could hurt the state's image, said Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Equality Action, a coalition of groups against the proposal.

"We don't need to contribute to the brain drain in this state," Sutton said. "Young people are voting with their feet on issues like this and we need to keep the brightest minds here."

A similar amendment banning gay marriage passed the General Assembly in 2005, when Republicans controlled the House and Senate. But Democrats gained a House majority in 2006, and the proposal didn't clear the chamber again while they held power, so the process had to start over.

The Republican-led House voted in favor of the amendment last month.

More than 40 states prohibit same-sex marriage and more than half of those prohibit it through their state constitutions.

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  • My response video
    This is so sad. Please watch my video response to this news on YouTube and repost it if you feel the same way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV6t_6kvYOM
  • sadie0777
    As a former Hoosier (born n bred) who chose 2 move away from my home state to seek better employment, I am appaled but not really shocked! I am also a lesbian. Which has nothing to do with anything except for who I fall in Love with. I've moved 2 a state where I am not quite the second class citizen I was in Indiana. Glad I moved away and took my college degree with me! Y is this even an issue? I pay taxes, I'm a productive citizen, I'm an gainfully employed. By putting this ban on the books an "constitutional" Indiana has done nothing but given up on ANY business from me!
  • I never liked Indiana
    Well, if this passes, I will have a valid reason to leave this dreadful state forever.
  • What a Joke
    There are so many more important issues that need to be addressed by our legislators; jobs, economy, education etc. What a waste of time an effort. As born Hoosier that has been proud how far we progressed over the years. This is an embarassment. This does not need to be a constitutional law. This backwards mentality makes you want to move out of this State.
  • What could've been?
    Some years ago I read the obituary of a state legislator stating his proudest accomplishment had been keeping legislation allowing cross county banking in Indiana from ever getting a hearing during his tenure. As we know, other states were more progressive on this issue and there is not a single nationwide bank domiciled in Indiana. I sadly shook my head as I remembered the great Indianapolis banks that were kept from growing large enough to stop from being takeover targets: AFNB, Indiana Bank and Merchants to mention a few. I also wonder whether our economy would be stronger today if the locally owned banks had not all gone away.

    So, as we look in horror at the sad activity of the GOP here and across the nation, let us remember that not terribly far into the future Dennis Kruse and the other legislators pushing for this amendment will be derided for sponsoring this discriminatory legislation. When there was a chance to make a bold statement about the future of the state, they looked backwards instead of forward.
  • Wrong Move
    As the Indiana legislature seeks to move Indiana backwards on the issues of freedom, fairness, and equality, the rest of the country and the world are moving forward.

    Marriage equality exists for gay citizens in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. Marriage equality exists for Americans in the United States in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Coquille. Same-sex marriages from these states are recognized in American Samoa, Guam, Maryland New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island.

    These countries provide for legal civil unions and registered partnerships of gay couples. Andorra, Austria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, - New Caledonia, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

    These states offer civil unions: Hawaii, New Jersey, and Illinois.

    These states offer domestic partnerships similar to civil unions Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, and Maine.
  • Real motivation
    This single proposal is enough to make me reconsider my pride for this state. I don't take being a Hoosier as a joke, well.......I didn't, but these bums sure make it a laugh. It is obviously being driven by some wealthy people with connections to politicians and not voicing the interests of people of the state. This has no roots in safety or general wlfare and certainly doesn't promote job creation or improved incomes. Republicans have simply made campign promises they can't keep and now they must scratch and fight and propose taking away people's individual freedoms to list an accompishment when it comes time to vote. A lot of smoke has been thrown at dems for staying out of state, but I argue that thier efforts are producing more positive results than this single piece of legislation.
  • This is their best efforts for our state?
    Talk about a legacy - I hope this is what Bosma and his rough riders want to be remembered for. Instead of building up the state for future generations, they will ensure that sentient beings, gay and straight, will choose to live elsewhere - which will hasten the brain drain as well as the financial insolvency of Indiana.
  • Indiana Republicans Hard At Work on Creating Hoosier Jobs
    Did I say creating jobs? I meant legislating morality.

    Thanks for the jobs! Sadly the in-State Republicans have chosen to stay on-par with the out-of-state Dems: Accomplishing nothing.

    It's very simple: Republicans campaigned on jobs. They've done nothing in the Statehouse to back that up.
  • Politics over Policy...
    This is another sad moment for Republicans who put politics before policy. Instead of focusing on how we can make Indiana a better state, these partisan politicans are making a mockery of what government should be.

    The sad fact is that they know that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. They know that as courts start to move towards younger (and, frankly, more accepting) individuals, these measures will be called out for what they are. Thus, the only way to make something that is unconstitutional into something constitutional is to write it into our governing documents. If the gay marriage ban was 100% consitutional, there would be no need to write this bigoted ban into our Constitution.
  • This is NOT a constitutional issue
    Changing our state constitution for BS like this is dangerous. I don't take amending our constitution lightly and neither should you. Gay marriage aside, this is not a constitutional issue and is properly addressed in the Indiana Civil Code.

    Read the Indiana Constitution. This legislation does not fit in ay section. It has nothing to do with how we run our government. We must not compromise our founding document for partisan legislation.

    While you might support the ban, it does not belong in the constitution. It belongs in the Indiana Code.

    Call your reps and tell them not to touch your constitution!

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