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Indiana Senate committee approves amended constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality

Marriage equality

Indiana state sealIn a small but important piece of news, an Indiana Senate committee yesterday advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban marriage equality to the full Senate floor, bringing the ban one step closer to reality but also setting up a possible showdown with the state’s other legislative house.  The Indianapolis Star reports:

After three hours of testimony and less than five minutes of discussion, an Indiana Senate committee voted along party-lines for the constitutional ban.

The Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee voted 8-4 to send House Joint Resolution 3 to the full Senate. The vote — with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against — sets up what will likely be a showdown on the Senate floor over whether to add back a provision that would also prohibit civil unions.

“It is now to the floor, as I hoped it would be, unamended, so the entire Senate will get an opportunity to debate this and we’ll have a robust discussion,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

Two weeks ago, the Indiana House made headlines when it approved the amendment but stripped from it the measure’s controversial second sentence, which would have banned civil unions and domestic partnerships in addition to marriage equality.  Because of Indiana’s requirements surrounding constitutional amendments, that modified legislation would not be able to go before voters until the 2016 election.  The original, unamended version of the bill would have allowed for a popular vote this November. 

In 2011, the Indiana Senate approved HJR3 by a 40-10 vote with the second sentence included.  According to the Star, several Republicans in the chamber have spoken out against the second sentence this year, but only one–Ron Alting of Lafayette–has committed to vote no on the measure.

The Star quoted Long as saying that changes to the amendment will come Thursday, but that a final vote will likely not be held until next week at the earliest.

Essentially, there are three possible scenarios moving forward.  First, the full Senate could restore the second sentence to the bill, in which case it would be sent back to the House.  Second, the Senate could approve the House’s second sentence-less version, in which case it would need to be approved by the General Assembly after the 2014 election so the measure could go before voters in the 2016 election.  Finally, if the Senate approves the unamended bill, it could be sent to a conference committee in which members from both the House and Senate would attempt to secure a compromise that both houses would then have to approve.

In other words, this is far from over.  The Indiana House vote was a very good sign for marriage equality advocates in the state, but there are still some curveballs that the Senate could throw.  The full chamber vote, if it occurs next week, will be a very important one to watch.

Update (1:30 p.m. Eastern): This post has been updated throughout to reflect that the Senate passed the House-amended version, not the original.


  • 1. Jesse  |  February 11, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Someone needs to rile up the Indiana voting base and have them contact their state legislature to let them know that considering current events around the U.S., this is a waste of time…

  • 2. Lymis  |  February 11, 2014 at 9:16 am

    That shouldn't be too hard – because of budget cuts, Indiana isn't salting or plowing their roads and highways adequately, and they keep ordering people to stay home, at least in Northern Indiana. My husband can tell the state line, because that's where the roads clear.

  • 3. Eric Koszyk  |  February 11, 2014 at 8:53 am

    In better news, the Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that a woman can adopt the children of her wife:

    And it was unanimous!

  • 4. StevenJ  |  February 11, 2014 at 8:58 am

    From The Senate Rules Committee has approved the House-amended version of the bill, by a vote of 8-4. The House-amended version of HJR-3 now advances to the full Senate floor. On Thursday, the full Senate will vote on HJR-3, and we are meeting at 12:30 at the Statehouse to show our opposition.

    We’re disappointed that HJR-3, in any form, advanced today. But because the Senate passed the amended version of HJR-3 — which doesn’t include the especially dangerous second sentence limiting all protections for same-sex couples — this divisive amendment would not appear on the ballot until 2016 at the earliest.

  • 5. seannynj  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:05 am

    So the Senate commitee passed both amended and unamended versions of the same bill?

  • 6. Eric Koszyk  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I don't think so. The headline for this post is very confusing.

    I think the Committee passed the House version, without the language regarding civil unions. I think the headline should read that they approved the amended constitutional amendment.

  • 7. Jacob Combs  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I got my facts wrong! Thanks for pointing that out, everyone. The post has been corrected throughout.

  • 8. StevenJ  |  February 11, 2014 at 11:03 am

    In your defense, the IndyStar article is a little confusing about what happened Monday in the senate committee vote.

    Amending the constitution is a moot point anyway, because state law already defines marriage as between 1 man and 1 woman. A small, vocal group is pushing for this measure and many moderates are afraid of denouncing it completely.

    Personally, I'm glad that Indiana has gotten so many mentions here on (um, except that it's about this backward-momentum thing).

  • 9. davep  |  February 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Aaah, got it! Well at least it wasn't just me being confused this time! I was hesitant to post yet another of my "I'm confused, can someone clarify?" comments : )

  • 10. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

    "Because of Indiana’s requirements surrounding constitutional amendments. . . .", such requirements as spelled out in the state constitution:


    Section 1. (a) An amendment to this Constitution may be proposed in either branch of the General Assembly. If the amendment is agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each of the two houses, the proposed amendment shall, with the yeas and nays thereon, be entered on their journals, and referred to the General Assembly to be chosen at the next general election.

    (b) If, in the General Assembly so next chosen, the proposed amendment is agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each House, then the General Assembly shall submit the amendment to the electors of the State at the next general election.

    (c) If a majority of the electors voting on the amendment ratify the amendment, the amendment becomes a part of this Constitution.
    (History: As Amended November 3, 1998).

    Section 2. If two or more amendments shall be submitted at the same time, they shall be submitted in such manner that the electors shall vote for or against each of such amendments separately.
    (History: As Amended November 8, 1966).

    Unstated in that Article (Number 16 of the state constitution) is whether the wording of the amendment must be exact, or similar. Some amendments were passed by the electorate in the 1960s and 1970s that were not exactly the same as the legislation originally passed by the legislature. No courts were asked to rule on whether the passage of the amendments was or was not in accordance with the state constitution.

    Also, an article from the Anderson Herald Bulletin:

  • 11. Dr. Z  |  February 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Let me just say how much I'm enjoying these antique state seals. Honestly, when was the last time there were wild herds of bison in Indiana?

    (And 1816 was the "year without a Summer" due to the eruption of Krakatoa. And the year Mary Shelley wrote the first version of Frankenstein during her vacation at Lake Como with Lord Byron. And wasn't it also the year of the great New Madrid earthquake in Missouri that rang church bells as far away as Boston?)

  • 12. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 11, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    American Bison (not buffalo) roamed the state of Indiana for many centuries, if not millennia. People have pulled bones of American Bison out of the ground in Indiana. The specific American Bison in most of Indiana were Eastern Woodland Bison. And yes, there were herds of American Bison in Indiana when it became a state.

    One of my ancestors spent several years more than 2 decades after Indiana became a state taking down trees on his farm in DeKalb County, Indiana so he could actually farm the land. The tale is that he didn't see the light from another cabin, house, or other permanent abode for ten years after he started taking down trees.

    Many people say the Great Plains begin East of Lafayette, Indiana, and spread (in a generally wedge-shape pattern) West to the foothills of the Rockies. Those same people say the Eastern woodlands end in Indiana, others say in Illinois, especially NE and South Illinois. For a full list of trees that are native to Indiana, Purdue University (located in West Lafayette, Indiana) has a list, located at:… . All or most still grow in the state (Elms may be an exception. Most species grew on the farm I grew up on.).

    BTW – the New Madrid, Missouri, Earthquakes were in 1811-12. There were multiple temblors, spread over a period of weeks (Dec. 16, 1811, Dec. 16, 1811, Jan. 23, 1812, Feb. 7, 1812) not a single incident.

    The year without a summer hit mostly Europe and New England, and did not affect Indiana (nor any state West of Indiana) near as much as in Europe and New England.

    And in June 1816, Mary Shelley wrote a short story ('Frankenstein') in a cottage close to Lake Geneva at the village of Cologny in Switzerland, not in North America, and months before Indiana became a state on December 11, 1816 (although she didn't actually publish the work until 1818 as 'Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus', after expanding the short story to novel-length). She also was on holiday in Switzerland with her husband (Percy Shelley), her infant son, John William Polidori and several friends, along with Lord Byron.

  • 13. Dr. Z  |  February 12, 2014 at 6:41 am

    The "year without a summer" and Frankenstein are related – the weather was so dreaty that Shelley and party had to stay indoors and invent stories to entertain themselves. The first draft of Frankenstein was the result.

    Lake Como (in Italy, on the Swiss border) is the setting in the novel for Victor Frankenstein's wedding to Elizabeth – but you are correct, the draft was written while the party was staying near Lake Geneva.

  • 14. Dr. Z  |  February 12, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Ah, and it was the eruption of Mount Tambora that triggered the year without a summer, not Krakatoa (which erupted in 1883.) That's what I get for posting from my phone. One thing I didn't know – there were such worldwide shortages of food that year (the rice crop failed in China, for instance) that the velocipede was invented as a means of horseless transportation. So the modern bicycle owes some of its parentage to a volcano. 🙂

  • 15. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    And again, the major effects of the eruption affected New England and Europe, and to a much smaller extent, Indiana.

    And the snide comment about 'buffalo'? American bison had a range from Great Bear Lake in Canada's far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east to the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States (nearly to the Atlantic tidewater in some areas) from New York to Georgia and per some sources down to Florida. I believe Indiana would be located slightly to the East of the center of that range.

    The Eastern Woodland Bison (Bison bison athabascae) are larger than the plains bison (Bison bison bison). The Eastern Woodland Bison is one of the largest wild species of bovid in the world, surpassed by only the Asian gaur and wild water buffalo.

    It was the Eastern Woodland Bison that was in Indiana when the territory became a state in December 1816.

  • 16. bythesea  |  February 12, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    There is no snide comment about "buffalo" above. Both you and Dr. Z used the correct term "bison", however you appear to have then misread it.

  • 17. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I didn't say they were not related.

    You stated that 'Frankenstein' was written at Lake Como and implied that Lord Byron was the ONLY person who was with Mary Shelley when she wrote the piece.

    I stated that 'Frankenstein' was written near Lake Geneva in the village of Cologny in Switzerland, not in North America (as you had made it seem). And that Mary Shelley was with her husband, her son, several friends and Lord Byron.

    The year without a summer? Hit Europe and New England much, much harder than it hit Indiana (or Oregon). I didn't say it had no effect on Indiana (not yet a state), but the effect was to a MUCH less degree than in New England or Europe.

    And the New Madrid EarthquakeS (four major temblors, and many smaller ones) occurred some five years prior to Indiana becoming a state.

  • 18. Dr. Z  |  February 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Mike, you should consider some anger management classes.

  • 19. bayareajohn  |  February 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Clearly there are a lot of hot topics that beg for comment and illumination here in the discussion of Marriage Equality.
    Among them are NOT:
    1. Imagined insults to Bison and clarification of the difference between Bison bison bison and Bison bison athabascae
    2. Exactly who was and who was not with Mary Shelly when she wrote Frankenstein
    3. Whether someone may or may not have implied or omitted the exact location of Shelly's authoring of the above book
    4. Just who may have implied that Indiana had more or less impact from a volcano

    You really need to let some things just go by, Mike.
    Your post way above about the processes in Indiana was spot-on good information, something you are good at and do often here. The rest is a progressively nastier rant from left field about a side comment that not even the commenter is invested in.

  • 20. Randolph Finder  |  February 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    The Year without a summer is also related to the Mormon Church. The farming in Vermont got so bad that Joseph Smith Sr moved the family from Vermont to Upstate New York where Joseph Smith found the Golden Plates.

  • 21. Greg  |  February 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The Senate today passed the Amended verision of this bill. It will need to be passed again after 2014 elections, and would go to voters in 2016 if it is passed. This is a major victory for opponents of the bill. As tides continue to change around marriage equality, blocking a ballot vote this year is good news. To respond to you Jesse, we have been. Freedom Indiana is a grassroots, built from stratch, movement that delivered thousands of petitions and letters to lawmakers, made calls, and started the activity with citizens to try and block passage of this distructive bill. As you can see, it worked as well as anyone could have hoped for in this massive Republican majority House and Senate. Thanks for recognizing the efforts of this group and everyday citizens like us–we called. I would ask, did you? You don't have to live in a state to reach out and support its citizens!

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