Indiana News

Gay Marriage Ban Moves to Full Senate

Opponents contend recent polls show public opinion turning their way

3/23/2011

A constitutional ban on gay marriage is headed to the Senate floor for the sixth time in seven years.

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On a party-line vote, a Senate committee rejected a Democratic bid to narrow the amendment to leave open the possibility of legalizing civil unions.

Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) points to state and national polls suggesting a shift in opinions toward gay marriage. A poll commissioned by the gay-rights group Indiana Equality Action finds a 47-to-43% plurality of Hoosiers opposes the amendment. And an ABC poll for the first time found a majority, 53%, supporting same-sex marriage.

Lanane argues the state should at least give future legislators the flexibility to strike a middle ground as opinions shift. And he says deleting that section would eliminate the risk of jeopardizing health benefits for unmarried couples. Legal experts disagree on whether that risk exists.

Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), who sponsored the amendment, says in the 30 states where voters have approved bans, the average vote in favor was 68 percent.

Voters would have to cast ballots on the Indiana amendment in 2014. Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) says if public opinion truly is shifting, the public would have its chance then to say so.

Voters have approved bans in every state in which the proposal has been placed on the ballot, although Arizona rejected a ban in 2006 before voting 56% in favor of a revised version two years later.

The full Senate still must vote on the ban. If it again passes, the amendment would go to the back burner until 2013, when the House and Senate would have to pass it again before voters weigh in.

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