The Indiana House advances a bill that would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions by a 70-26 vote.
The legislation defines marriage as only legal between one man and one woman in Indiana. It also prohibits civil unions by including language that a legal status "substantially similar" to marriage for unmarried people is not valid.
The bill's author, Rep. Eric Turner (R-Marion), maintains that traditional heterosexual marriage is best for raising children.
"The cornerstone of the family is marriage," Turner said. "Marriage is, and should be, the union of one man and one woman."
He says the bill won't affect domestic partner benefits, adoption or contracts.
But opponents, including Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan (D-Indianapolis), argue a ban would impose personal moral beliefs on residents who don't feel the same way.
"Noone can tell you what to feel in your hearts," Sullivan said. "So live your lives as you will, but don't tear others apart."
The bill heads to the Senate for consideration. If passed there, the amendment would still have to pass the Indiana General Assembly again in 2013 or 2014 before it would go on the ballot for a statewide referendum.