On Monday, January 13, the House Judiciary Committee of Indiana heard testimony on a bill that would constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the state should it pass.
After a year that saw a rise in support for same-sex marriage across the United Sates, Indiana may go against the trend, tightening restrictions on LGBT rights in the state.
The bill would ban not only same-sex marriages but any legal categories made in the same vein, such as civil unions. While the state of Indiana already has a statute in place banning same-sex marriages, this new bill is an attempt to add an amendment to the state’s constitution.
On Tuesday, January 14, the governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, who supports “traditional marriage,” said he wanted to resolve the issue of HJR-3, the same-sex constitutional ban, “once and for all” during his State of the State Address.
“Reasonable people can differ, and there are good people on both sides of this debate,” Pence said, calling for a public debate and vote on the constitutional ban.
“No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe. So let’s have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect,” he continued.
In response, Freedom Indiana, the organization dedicated to defeating HJR-3, asked for supporters of same-sex unions to call the Governor and let him know their stance on the issue.
Responding to Pence’s assertion that everyone should “strive to support every Hoosier family,” the organization responded:
“For us, that’s what this campaign is all about—guaranteeing that all Hoosier families are afforded the freedom and liberty we all deserve. Defeating HJR-3 is the only way to truly respect all families—and ensure that everyone, including gay and lesbian couples, feels welcome in our state—is to reject HJR-3.”
While the hearing pushed back the vote, which was to take place on January 13, a decision is expected to be reached by the Judiciary Committee by the end of the week.
Should it pass, the bill will be sent to the State House, where it must pass two consecutive sessions, and then put on the ballot for voters to decide.
At the Statehouse on January 13, opponents of the bill filled the halls wearing red t-shirts, a symbol of their support for gay love.
“It was such an amazing sight to look around the House chamber and Statehouse halls and see so many Hoosiers decked out in red to show their opposition to this divisive amendment that would harm our friends, neighbors and families,” said the campaign manager for LGBT rights organization Freedom Indiana, Megan Robertson.
“Hoosiers opposed to this amendment have made thousands of calls to lawmakers and written nearly 15,000 letters to make it clear that we will not rest until our Constitution is protected and all Hoosiers are protected under it.”