Ind. Same-Sex Marriage Battle Could Focus on Language
The success of a sparsely-worded constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage could hinge on whether lawmakers remove a key sentence expanding its reach, House and Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday.
The battle over gay marriage is expected to dominate the upcoming 2014 session. The state already has a law banning same-sex marriage, but some gay marriage opponents are concerned that a judge could overturn the law, so they want it enshrined in the state constitution.
The proposed amendment, if passed, would restrict marriage to being between a man and woman. But it would also further restrict the rights of same-sex couples and ban lawmakers from reconsidering the issue in the future. Those additional restrictions, which are in the second sentence of the proposed amendment, have drawn increasing concern from lawmakers.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Tuesday it might be possible to delete those additional restrictions while still sending the amendment to voters next November. But Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said legislative lawyers have advised him that an altered amendment would likely restart the state’s lengthy process for altering its constitution.
Constitutional amendments must be approved in two consecutive biennial sessions of the General Assembly and then be placed on the ballot. Lawmakers have already approved the proposed gay marriage ban once but would have to do so again before it could be put to voters.
"What we’ve heard from (the Legislative Services Agency) is if we do that, it’s likely it would not hold up in court. If we send it to the public in the fall, amended, it could be on very shaky ground," Long said.