Public AffairsGovernment / February 13, 2014

Senate Keeps HJR-3 Off The Ballot Until At Least 2016

Erika Brock - TheStatehouseFile.com
Senate Keeps HJR-3 Off The Ballot Until At Least 2016

Hoosiers won’t be seeing the same-sex marriage amendment on this year’s ballot. After the Indiana House of Representatives voted to eliminate the controversial second sentence last month, it was up to the Senate to decide whether to re-add the sentence or to start the process all over again.

The Republican-dominated Senate decided Thursday not to try to restore the second sentence to House Joint Resolution 3. That sentence would have banned civil unions as well as gay marriages.

“Our caucus decided that was the approach we wanted to take. We quiet took our vote. That is how we operate in the Republican Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

HJR-3 now will have to go through at least one more legislative session. The earliest the measure can find its way onto a ballot would be 2016.

The Senate’s decision not to try to restore the civil union after a federal court in Kentucky struck down a same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution and ruled  that the bluegrass state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The language in Kentucky’s constitution was virtually identical to the proposed Indiana constitutional amendment.

Long said the court decision in Kentucky didn’t affect the Indiana Senate’s decision in regard to HJR-3. He said it was in the “realm of discussion,” but didn’t necessary change the Senate’s plans.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on gay marriage posed Fifth Amendment problems, but left the states to decide what the definition of marriage is.

Long said the ultimate decision in regard to same-sex marriage could be made by the nation’s highest court.

“I am convinced that it does not make a difference. In the end, the United States Supreme Court will make the decision on whether or not it’s a state by state determination or whether the 14th amendment will rule and that all marriage is the same,” Long said.

Representatives of Freedom Indiana, a coalition that opposes HJR-3, called the Senate’s action a significant victory.

“Partial and incomplete victory, but it is still absolutely huge,” said Bob Shaw, a retired minister from Indianapolis.

Shaw echoed Long’s assessment that the Supreme Court might make the final decision and Shaw said that would be good.

Shaw said he “firmly believes that by this point (two years down the road) it will be moot anyway.” He added that some other state would have spent its tax dollars fighting in court.

Long said HJR3 will be voted on in the Senate and likely will pass on Monday.

Erika Brock is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.