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HJR-3 passes Indiana House committee, heads to full House

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 22, 2014)– The House Elections and Apportionment Committee voted 9-3 Wednesday night to pass a controversial same-sex marriage amendment.

Three Democrats voted no, and another was excused for a medical emergency.  It could head to the full House as soon as Thursday.

The vote on the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Indiana came after four hours of debate.

Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced Tuesday that HJR-3 would be moved to the House Elections committee. The resolution had stalled in the House Judiciary committee, whose members held a three-hour hearing on the issue last week, but did not vote.

Bosma said Judiciary committee chair Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, asked him to move the bill elsewhere, out of a concern the bill might not pass the committee.

“Marriage is between a man and woman,” said Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola. “I believe the people of Indiana are demanding the right to vote on whether to put that on their constitution.”

HJR3 opponents were quick to criticize the Speaker’s actions.

“I’m somewhat amused by the option of ‘let’s let the people decide’,” said Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes. “In the seven years I’ve been here, there’s been lots of times we could have let the people decide and we didn’t.”

“I’m a little bit angry about that, but there’s nothing we can do,” said Annette Gross, a HJR3 Opponent. “We can just be here to support equality.”

Emotions were high as crowds gathered in the House Chambers balcony and outside. An HJR3 opponent was escorted out by Indiana State Police officers after giving a thumbs down during testimony.

The constitutional amendment was authored by Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero. Turner’s resolution had been filed last session as HJR6, but was set aside.

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