Indiana lawmakers ready to renew same-sex marriage debate

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Indiana lawmakers responded to Wednesday’s monumental Supreme Court decision, while also looking ahead to a looming battle over Indiana’s definition of marriage.

After the Supreme Court struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, lawmakers in Indiana announced they were planning to move forward with a vote on a constitutional marriage amendment next year.

That’s because the High Court didn’t rule on California’s Prop 8, a measure that banned same-sex marriage altogether in California. The court’s refusal to rule on the case now permits same-sex couples to legally marry in California, but it also means that other states like Indiana would be able to move forward with similar amendments since the court didn’t make a broader ruling.

“I am certainly pleased the Supreme Court has confirmed each state’s right to address the legal issue,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma in a written statement. “The members of the General Assembly will be fully equipped to address the issue of the constitutional amendment in the coming legislative session, and with today’s decision, I am confident the matter will come before the General Assembly and ultimately be placed on a referenda ballot for voter consideration.”

“I fully anticipate both the Senate and House will be voting on the amendment next session,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

“I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman and is a unique institution worth defending,” said Gov. Mike Pence in a written statement. “While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, I am grateful that today’s decisions respect the sovereignty of states on this important issue… I look forward to supporting efforts by members of the Indiana General Assembly to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter consideration next year.”

House and Senate Democrats said they felt the Supreme Court decision on DOMA should be a sign to legislators that opinions are quickly changing.

“I think it really does call into question the wisdom of doing more than what Indiana has now,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

“There is no need to muddy up our state’s highest document with an amendment that is likely to be a blemish on Indiana’s history,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.

Same-sex marriage supporters told Fox59 they were hopeful the resolution, known as HJR6, would be defeated.

“We’re ready to fight the fight at the legislature and at the ballot if we have to,” said Rick Sutton, executive director, Indiana Equality Action. “We think the public is way ahead of the legislature on this issue.”

“Today’s a day for celebration,” said IEA president Chris Paulsen. “(But) tomorrow we buckle down to fight HJR6 here in Indiana.”

If passed next session, HJR6 would place the issue in front of voters in 2014.

The amendment would define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, but opponents fear it would strip rights away from gay and straight non-married couples in Indiana.

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