Indiana News

Gay-Marriage Ban Will Be Reworded

Backers hope to answer objections warning of unintended consequences


Backers of a constitutional ban on gay marriage plan to reintroduce the proposal in next year's legislature, but in a slightly revised form.

The House and Senate approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2005, but constitutional amendments must pass two consecutive legislatures. Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, and when the chamber's Rules Committee deadlocked on sending the amendment to the floor in '07, Speaker Patrick Bauer declared the proposal had had its chance.

Opponents in 2007 argued the proposal would have unintended consequences, such as making it impossible to file domestic violence charges involving unmarried heterosexual couples. Supporters disagreed, but with the amendment starting from scratch, Marion Representative Eric Turner says he's tweaked the wording to answer those objections.

Turner says the new version is modeled on amendments in other states which have stood up to similar scrutiny.

Turner notes about half of House Democrats voted for the amendment in 2005, and says he expects some Democrats to file their own version of an amendment this year. He says he hopes they'll be able to persuade Bauer to allow a hearing.

Same-sex marriages are already illegal in Indiana, and Bauer and other opponents have argued a constitutional amendment is redundant. Turner argues the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling which legalized gay marriage there is evidence that the law is vulnerable to judicial activism if it's not added to the constitution.

California's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage earlier this year, only to be overruled in November by voter approval of a constitutional ban. Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey have laws allowing civil unions of same-sex couples.

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