Indiana lawmakers to wait another year on same-sex marriage amendment

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers will not pursue a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage during this year’s legislative session.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the legislature will delay until next year as lawmakers await a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the issue. The high court is set to hear two separate cases on the manner this summer.

There had been indications that lawmakers would not call for a vote this session because of uncertainty surrounding the court’s decision.

“There’s a few folks who would like to see it move forward,” Bosma said during a Monday afternoon news conference. “But for the most part, we think it’s advisable to wait.”

“Given that there is uncertainty there, and given that the Obamacare decision was a surprise to many of us, it leaves that question of could the Supreme Court in fact surprise us once again?” said Senate president David Long. “Because of that, our caucus has decided to wait until 2014.”

Bosma said he still supports the idea of the amendment because he thinks voters should decide the issue.

“For me, it’s an issue about who decides this, who decides what marriage is in Indiana,” Bosma said. “And do we have judges make that decision, as they have in some states?”

If the proposal ends up passing next year, voters would get the final say through a referendum in November 2014.

In 2011, the proposed amendment cleared both the House and the Senate. The measure barred same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Advocacy group Indiana Equality Action its allies applauded Thursday’s decision with a statement from Rick Sutton, the group’s executive director:

“First and foremost, we want to thank legislators for putting the brakes on an amendment that would permanently alter our Indiana Constitution with uncertain long-term consequences.

“We continue to believe the spirit of this amendment runs counter to our shared Hoosier values of kindness and equality. We also believe that the breadth and vagueness of the second sentence of the proposed amendment creates a host of unintended legal issues.

“A recent study by students at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law found a significant number of rights and obligations related to marriage that could be permanently denied under the proposed amendment. We will continue to look into these issues and monitor the U.S. Supreme Court cases in the coming months.

“Today, though, we celebrate the evolution of this debate and the open, honest dialogue we have had with lawmakers about the amendment’s effect on our state, our economy and our future. A delay is by no means a win, but we believe we are headed in a better direction, and Indiana is stronger when we all move forward together.”

Another supporter of same-sex marriage told Fox59 he would move out of Indiana if the measure was voted into law.

“I love Indiana, and I would love to stay here for all of my life,” said Richard Walsh of Indiana Marriage Equality. “But I can’t be in a state where I can’t be who I am so it’s likely that, if this was to go through, I would move elsewhere.”

State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, released a statement agreeing with the decision and saying he would wait until the 2014 session to pursue it:

“I am thankful for Sen. Long and Speaker Bosma’s careful consideration of the marriage protection amendment.

“Like them, I believe it is prudent to wait and to make sure the amendment will be in line with any Supreme Court ruling regarding California’s marriage amendment. I will abide by the decision of our caucus and support hearing it in the next year.”

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