Senate committee passes marriage measure – without second sentence

Opponents and supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage filled the gallery Monday at the Senate chamber where a committee approved the measure. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

Opponents and supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage filled the gallery Monday at the Senate chamber where a committee approved the measure. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

By John Sittler
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – A Senate committee on Monday passed the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana – without re-instating the controversial second sentence.

Proponents of a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman joined oponents outside the Seante chamber on Monday. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

Proponents of a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman joined oponents outside the Seante chamber on Monday. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

But President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he expects amendments will be offered when the measure hits the Senate floor on Thursday.

“Nothing should surprise you at this point,” Long said. “It is to the floor as I hoped it would be – un-amended – so that the entire Senate will have an opportunity to debate this and we’ll have a robust discussion.”

House Joint Resolution 3 would define marriage in Indiana as the union between one man and one woman. It originally contained a clause that also banned any legal relationship “identical or substantially similar” to marriage, but the House voted last month to strip that language, which could have banned civil unions.

If the amendment passes the General Assembly in its current form, it would need to be approved a second time – in either 2015 or 2016 – before it could be placed on the ballot for ratification. But if the Senate puts the second sentence back in and the House approves that, it would go to the ballot this year.

Without exception, everyone that testified in support of HJR 3 Monday also supported the reintroduction of that sentence.

Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, even said he would rather see the amendment defeated than placed on the ballot in its current form.

“Civil unions do not serve as a compromise or middle ground,” he said.

Smith also asked President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, to author an amendment that would replace the second sentence. Long quickly reprimanded Smith saying his request was “out of order.”

Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage held up signs Monday outside the Senate chamber where a committee approved the measure. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage held up signs Monday outside the Senate chamber where a committee approved the measure. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

Kellie Fiedorek, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, agreed with Smith, saying neither supporters nor opponents of HJR 3 are happy with the constitutional measure in its current form.

The testimony from both sides mirrored the comments the House heard last month.

Supporters cited studies that said children do best when raised in a home with both a mother and a father.

“Marriage brings together men and women for the reproduction of the human race and keeps them together to raise the children of their union to maturity,” said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council.

But executives from both Cummins and Eli Lilly & Co. said the passage of HJR 3 would be harmful for business.

Steve Fry, senior vice president of human resources and diversity at Lilly, said that even a statewide campaign and November vote on the issue would “negatively impact our ability to recruit and retain talent.”

Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage wore red shirts and stickers Monday outside the Senate chamber where a committee approved the measure. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage wore red shirts and stickers Monday outside the Senate chamber where a committee approved the measure. Photo by Paige Clark, TheStatehouseFile.com

Jackie Simmons, vice president and general council for Indiana University, said she was pleased with the removal of the second sentence and hoped the Senate would keep the clause out of HJR 3.

She said if HJR 3 passed with the second sentence, IU would be forced to alter its partner benefit plan to accommodate it – creating rules that would make the plan more cumbersome and possibly more expensive. That happened at the University of Kentucky after a similar amendment passed in the commonwealth and the state attorney general ruled the school’s benefits package was substantially similar to marriage.

“At IU, we don’t want to have to follow Kentucky in anything,” Simmons said to laughter in the Senate chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, questioned whether the proposal is even one that should be put to the voters. “There is not a rational basis for this kind of proposal,” he said.

Lanane said HJR 3 is an idea whose time has come and gone.

“Should we let it have a long, lingering death, or put it out of its misery at this time?” he said.

The Senate Rules Committee voted 8-4 along party lines to pass HJR 3 in its current form.

John Sittler is a reporter with TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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