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Ind. House Votes To Change HJR 3

Posted On January 28, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Members of the Indiana House of Representatives, both Republican and Democrat, voted to change the language in House Joint Resolution 3 Monday.

House members voted 52-43 to strip the marriage amendment of its second sentence. The proposed amendment in whole had stated:

“Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

The change means the amendment process may have to start over again. Voters may not get to vote on the amendment until 2016, not this November. Before the amendment can go to a statewide vote, the bill with identical language must pass two consecutive but separately elected legislatures.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Mike Pence had asked for a conclusion on the issue this year.

Republican representatives crossing the aisle to vote with Democrats cited the amendment’s second sentence for their “no” votes. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) echoed other HJR 3 opponents in arguing that the amendment would have prohibited civil unions, domestic partnerships and endangered health benefits, hospital visitation, human rights ordinances, and other protections for Indiana’s same-sex couples.

“We told you years ago that the second sentence might impact domestic violence laws, might impact domestic partner benefits provided by corporations and private entities, might impact local ordinances,” said Pelath.

HJR 3’s author, State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) continued to push for the intact amendment’s passage stating that the second sentence would prevent marriage under any other name.

“Twenty of the 29 states that operate under constitutional amendments defining marriage as one man and one woman have a second sentence,” said Turner.

The new version of HJR 3 – now just one sentence long – will now get a third reading in the House Tuesday. If it is approved the legislation will head to the Indiana Senate.

Anti-HJR 3 political action committee Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson said the organization was grateful to lawmakers for removing the “dangerous” language from the amendment. But, while the proverbial battle could be over, the war is not won.

“Today is a victory for the thousands of Hoosiers across our state who’ve shared their stories at the Statehouse and made it clear that HJR-3 does not reflect our shared value,” Robertson said. “We will continue to work hard to make sure the amendment stays off the November ballot. That’s not the place to have this conversation, and it never will be.”

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