Senate Passes “Watered Down” HJR 3
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The debate over Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban is over, at least for this year.
On Monday, the state Senate voted 32-17 in favor of the limited constitutional ban. Because the second sentence regarding same-sex civil unions was removed by the Indiana House last month, the resolution will not be able to go to voters until at least 2016.
Proposed constitutional amendments must pass two consecutive, separately elected legislatures with the exact same wording. When the language in House Joint Resolution 3 changed, the amendment process started over.
Local lawmakers casting their votes in favor of HJR 3 Monday included state senators Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg), Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), Allen Paul (R-Richmond), and Jim Smith (R-Charlestown). No southeast Indiana senators voted against.
Political action committee Freedom Indiana, which formed last August to defeat HJR 3, viewed the passage of HJR 3 without a civil union ban as a victory. Campaign manager Megan Robertson said the fact that the amendment won’t go to a statewide vote in November is reason for a sigh of relief.
“We are grateful that the deeply flawed second sentence was removed by the House and kept out by the Senate, and we encourage Hoosiers to thank those lawmakers who showed the courage this session to make sure Indiana didn’t wind up on the wrong side of history,” Robertson said. “We were underdogs in this fight from the outset, but our success reflects the strength of the incredible coalition we were able to build in just six months.”
But HJR 3’s staunchest supporters viewed the one-sentence amendment as a “watered down” bill. Speaking to reporters at the Statehouse on Monday, Indiana Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) said he has worked for Christian values for eight years in the Indiana Senate and took an oath to uphold constitutional laws.
Last week, after the Senate failed to reinsert the second line into the original amendment, Delph posted a string of controversial tweets. Some lashed out at members of his own party, the media and the “self absorbed Godless culture that is fast tracking our nation to ruin.”
Delph defended his Twitter comments about same-sex marriage.
“For some reason we fear rigorous and in-depth public debate,” Delph told reporters. “I embrace it. I relish it. It makes me better. It makes me more informed. It shapes my thinking.”
Delph said his relationship with his openly gay brother has been misconstrued. He said he loves his brother and accepts him as a human being, but does not accept his lifestyle.
“It is wrong,” he said.