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Indiana lawmakers move forward with same-sex marriage ban

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INDIANAPOLIS – A committee of lawmakers will hold a hearing next week on the controversial same-sex marriage ban being discussed in the Indiana General Assembly.

The resolution to amend the state’s constitution, now known as HJR3, was handed down Thursday on the House floor, and was again authored by Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion. Turner’s resolution had been filed last session as HJR6, but was temporarily shelved during last year’s budget-writing session.

“We have been debating this in Indiana since 2004,” said Turner. “It is time to put this debate to rest and allow Hoosier voters the opportunity to decide.”

“It may have a new number, but it’s the same bad idea,” said Senate minority leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

Speaker Brian Bosma said the name change wasn’t done for any particular reason, he says it just happened to be the third joint resolution filed this year, and thus named HJR3.

Freedom Indiana’s campaign manager was skeptical when asked if she thought the change was deliberate or meant to somehow hurt her group’s efforts.

“Political games are being played with the legislative process,” said Robertson. “And I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Turner has also authored a companion bill, House Bill 1153, which attempts to clarify the controversial second sentence in the marriage amendment which states that “a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Bosma said HB1153 would clarify the second sentence to protect most domestic partnership rights, but not allow for civil unions.

“There’s no intent of the legislature to prevent any Hoosier from receiving benefits from their employer,” said Senate majority leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne. “I think this clarifying statute goes a long way to solving my concerns about it. I certainly did have concerns based on how it would be interpreted.”

Robertson said the companion bill only showed that the original amendment was flawed, and should be thrown out.

“It’s an amendment to the constitution, (so) it needs to be clear and if we need to go back to the drawing board to get it right then that’s what we need to do,” said Robertson.

“Unfortunately today, not only did the debate become more divisive,” said House minority leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City. “We now have made it more confusing.”

Bosma said the issue would be assigned the House Judiciary Committee, which was scheduled to hold a hearing on the controversial issue on Monday.

The resolution would have to pass the legislature this session to be placed on November’s statewide ballot.