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Pence reaffirms support for HJR3, calls for civil debate in State of the State speech

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In a nearly 30-minute speech, Governor Mike Pence discussed a wide range of issues in Tuesday night’s State of the State address – including taxes, health care, and education. But already it’s his brief remarks on a pending same sex marriage ban that are already capturing many of the headlines.

Pence reaffirmed his support Tuesday for the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, known as HJR3.

“I believe in traditional marriage, and I have long held the view that the people, rather than un-elected judges, should decide matters of such great consequence,” said Pence, who also called for a civil debate on the controversial issue.

“Reasonable people can differ, and there are good people on both sides of this debate,” Pence said. “No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe. So let’s have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect. Let’s protect the rights of Hoosier employers to hire who they want and provide them with benefits that they earn. And let’s resolve this issue this year once and for all.”

“I thought his comments were appropriate, and I thought he was pretty clear on where he stood,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

“His speech was 85 or 90 percent dealing with other issues,” said Senate minority leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. “I find this to be a common theme from members of the Republican party. They want to run from this resolution which they have written.”

Democrats also criticized the governor’s speech for being short on specifics.

“Mike Pence believes a governor should do very little, and he’s succeeding,” said House minority leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.

“It was in broad brush strokes, obviously, but that’s what State of the State speeches do,” said Senate majority leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne. “I though he painted a picture of where he wanted to see the state go in a positive way.”

Pence spent much of his speech focusing on agenda items he’s been pushing in recent weeks, including a phase out of the state’s business personal property tax, a tax on business machinery that Pence and some Republicans want to eventually eliminate.

“Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn’t make sense,” said the governor.

On education, Pence spoke against the federal Common Core standards.

“When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana’s will be uncommonly high,” said the governor.

Pence also thanked the sparring State Board of Education and Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who got a loud ovation in the chamber.

The governor also took time to thank those who helped rescue Hoosiers from last week’s winter storm, including members of the Indiana National Guard.

“It could have been a lot worse were it not for the efforts of our first responders,” said Pence, who also thanked those who helped clean up from the recent tornado outbreak in Kokomo and Lafayette.

“From all that I’ve seen, I can say with conviction that the state of our state is strong and growing stronger every day,” Pence said.

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