Indiana House Clears Marriage Ban Bill

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

The Indiana House on Tuesday approved a proposal to change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The vote on House Joint Resolution 3 was 57-40.

The bill now goes to the state senate.

Marriage equality supporters scored an important victory Monday, potentially thwarting the effort to put the ban on marriage for same-sex couples on the Indiana ballot this November. But during debate on the bill Tuesday, Rep. Shelli VanDenBurgh (D-Crown Point) said she thinks the amendment to remove language that would have also banned civil unions and domestic partnerships was just a tactic to give some Republicans political cover. She predicted the state senate would re-insert the language taken out of the House bill and the full original bill would be ultimately passed.

The Republican-dominated House voted 52 to 43 to remove language from the proposed ban that would have prevented same-sex couples from obtaining any form of recognition for their relationships, including civil unions and domestic partnerships. Some opponents said it could even have prevented employers from offering equal benefits to employees with same-sex partners.

During Tuesday's debate, Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland), who described himself as a "person of faith," said gay couples can live together but "where does it stop?"

"These people want to live a lifestyle, that's their right," said Burton, "but when they force some type of an object on us, then people have a right" to vote.

VanDenBurgh (D-Crown Point) responded to that later by noting that the proposed ban was singling out one group of people. "Where does that stop?" she asked.

Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) recounted the discrimination she experienced when she sought to become the first woman on her local police force. She said she was forced to wear a man's police uniform because her supervisor told her that her trying to be on the police force was "trying to be a man."

"Discrimination is an ugly, mean thing," said Lawson.

If the senate passes the version of the bill approved by the House, then the proposal will have to be approved by the next legislative session before going to voters.

The state's constitution requires that, before a proposed constitutional change can be put before voters, it must pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature.

If the senate restores the original language, the House would have to agree to that original version in order to put the measure on the ballot this year.

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