HJR 3 passes Indiana House without civil union clause

Photo by Rick Yencer

Same sex marriage ban moves on to Indiana Senate

By Rick Yencer

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (NEWS) - Indiana House Republicans had enough votes Tuesday to pass HJR 3 by 57-40 amid argument that they were writing discrimination into the Indiana Constitution by wanting to ban same sex marriage.

 Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, the resolution's author, said he only wanted voters to decide the definition of marriage instead of activists, the media, judges or even lawmakers.

Thirty five states have put the definition of marriage in the hands of voters, and that was good enough for most House Republicans afraid that judges would overturn state law that present same sex marriage.

 To Democratic Reps. Sue Errington of Muncie and Terri Austin of Anderson, the move was no more than writing discrimination into the Constitution that protects citizens' rights instead of taking them away.

The vote from eastern Indiana's Republican House members was predictable with all but one supporting to put the same sex marriage ban on the ballot in November.

 Those yes votes came from Republican House members Jack Lutz of Anderson; Greg Beumer of Modoc; Richard Hamm of Richmond, and Kevin Mahan of Hartford City,

 The lone Republican no vote was Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, who speaks is mind instead of the party.

More than a dozen lawmakers spoke about giving voters the right to define marriage. That is true democracy, said Rep. Woody Burton, R-Indianapolis. 

But others like Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said it was no more than putting discrimination against same sex couples in the Constitution that is supposed to protect the rights of people.

And Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, added the amended HJR 3 was a time bomb with a longer fuse and sure to pull legal challenges.

Errington, a former state senator, believed the resolution and referendum could falter if the Senate left the current language intact. Any change in a constitutional amendment has to go back through the legislature for action to be put on a ballot.

 While the House vote reflected a partisan split, there's the same Republican super majority to assure passage in the Senate. And Gov, Mike Pence wants the marriage issue decided by voters.

Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, has already said voters should decide the issues, while Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson believes HJR 3 should be rejected by lawmakers.

The Senate will likely take up the measure next week.

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