Despite calls from Democratic legislative leaders to shelve the legislation in Indiana intended to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution, Republicans said that the legislature should continue work on the proposal, but perhaps with a few new tweaks.
“The decision shouldn’t be made in a corporate board room,” Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said during his Organization Day address. “It shouldn’t be made in a judicial chamber. It shouldn’t be made in a university president’s office and, quite frankly, it shouldn’t be made in a single legislative leader’s office as well. It needs to be made with this body, and we’re going to make the decision together.”
Bosma suggested altering the proposed amendment on November 19, possibly eliminating the clause that also bans civil unions. This move could delay voter referendum on the issue by two years or subject it to a court challenge if it goes to voters in 2014, as has been proposed.
Constitutional amendments with identical language must usually be approved by two consecutively elected Indiana General Assemblies before being sent to the voters. Bosma has said that there is precedent from the 1960s and the 1970s to allow a change, but also noted that the issue has never been tested in courts.
Lawmakers seem to be facing a great amount of pressure over the proposal of gay marriage ban from both sides of the spectrum. Freedom Indiana—a coalition which opposes the ban—was the most visible at the Statehouse on Tuesday.
More than 150 volunteers from the coalition delivered 8,000 letters and postcards from opponents to lawmakers’ offices and also made calls to Hosiers, asking them to contact their lawmakers.
Curt Smith, President of the Indiana Family Institute, said that he was glad that the GOP leaders will allow the amendment to move forward.
“We’re encouraged that the legislative leaders have said that the measure deserves a full debate,” he said. “Ultimately, if it proves successful, it’s up to the people to decide. We continue to believe that this is a core question as to the kind of state we’re going to be, and so we think it’s best for the citizens to have the right to decide the definition of marriage.”
Senate President Pro Tempore David Long voted for the amendment in 2011, but hadn’t spoken recently about his own views until November 19, when he revealed that his two sons (21 and 26) hold opinions on the issue different from his own, reflecting opinion polls that show young people are more willing to accept same-sex partnerships.
“There’s coming in society today a thought that perhaps domestic partnerships or civil unions aren’t nearly as frightening as people thought they were in the past,” Long said.
Some House minority leaders have said it would be best for the issue to be shelved to prevent it from overshadowing more important issues. Although Republican leaders agree that the same-sex marriage ban is not a main priority, they still insist on keeping it on the agenda.