The proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana passed a House committee Wednesday, setting up the floor debate that Speaker Brian Bosma had promised.
The House Elections Committee passed the amendment 9-3 after more than four hours of testimony and debate. It came one day after the Republican leader moved the measure from the Judiciary Committee to the Elections Committee to try to ensure its passage.
It passed on a party-line vote, with one Democrat absent due to a family illness.
House Joint Resolution 3 would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. State law already prevents same-sex couples from marrying, but supporters say an amendment is needed to keep a single judge from overturning the law.
House Bill 1153 – a supplementary bill written to describe the “legislative intent” of HJR 3 – also passed. Both had been bottled up in the Judiciary Committee, where supporters were unable to muster the yes votes needed to pass it.
The move left elections committee members with less than 24 hours to prepare to hear the legislation.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed,” said Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis. “It’s grossly unfair to the citizens of Indiana.”
Bartlett questioned why the proposals were moved to the Elections Committee. He said both HJR 3 and HB 1153 dealt with legal issues that should have been decided in the Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus – chairman of the Elections Committee – said he thinks the marriage issue should be decided by Hoosiers at the ballot box, and therefore it is also an elections issue.
If the House and Senate pass the amendment this session, it will move to the ballot in November where it could be ratified by voters.
The testimony – which was initially limited to one hour for each side – mirrored the arguments heard in the Judiciary Committee last week.
Representatives from Indiana University, Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc. all testified that they believe HJR 3 would have negative repercussions on their ability to attract and keep a diverse work force.
The amendment was supported by Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, and Ken Klukowski, a law professor at Liberty University, among others.