Indiana News

Same-Sex Marriage Debate Begins in Legislature

Committee hears 3 1/2 hours of testimony; vote not yet scheduled

1/13/2014

Opponents of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage gather outside the House chamber. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)

Members of the House Judiciary Committee are expected to vote on a gay-marriage ban at their next meeting.

After hearing three-and-a-half hours of testimony on Monday for and against the constitutional amendment, the committee recessed without a vote.

Opponents, including the Indy Chamber and Hoosier companies from Eli Lilly, contend the constitutional amendment would hurt employers' ability to attract top talent. Lilly director of diversity Steve Fry says one key team member with a same-sex partner has already quit to work for a competitor in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal. He says he's talked to at least three others who plan to leave if the amendment advances, including what he calls an irreplaceable member of Lilly's innovation team.

Supporters argue the social ills of single-parent homes also apply in same-sex marriages, where either a father or mother will be missing. And they say the amendment adds a layer of protection to the state law banning gay marriage. Indiana is one of four states which ban same-sex marriage by law but not in their constitutions, and supporters say that makes the law more vulnerable to being struck down by a court. A federal court could invalidate the law whether it's in the constitution or not.

Supporters and opponents also disagree on whether a companion bill aimed at addressing warnings of unintended consequences will accomplish that goal. Opponents argue that since the amendment was first drafted and passed by a previous legislature, the current General Assembly can't make a binding declaration of its intent/.

All four Democrats on the committee have made clear their opposition to the amendment. Opponents would need three Republican votes to defeat it in committee. Six of the panel's nine Republicans voted for the amendment on its last trip through the House in 2011, although one, Carmel's Jerry Torr, has said he's leaning against it this time.

 

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