Indiana State May Face Marriage Inequality
On Monday, January 27th, the Indiana House of Representatives voted to alter a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Indiana. Formerly, this ban would have prohibited same-sex marriage, ignored same-sex marriages solemnized outside the state, and denied civil unions to same-sex couples. The bill was edited to permit civil unions, but still denies full marriage equality.
HJR-3, the amendment in question, originally stated: “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana… A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”
It was decided in a vote of 52-43 to remove the second sentence from the amendment. Supporters of marriage equality rejoiced for the small victory, but will be dismayed if the bill in its current form passes through the Senate. However, in order for an amendment to be added to the State Constitution of Indiana, a bill must be approved in two different sessions of Congress, and must be approved by the people in a public referendum.
Legislation to add a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was first introduced in 2004, and has been voted down but reintroduced every year before 2011, when it was approved by an overwhelming majority in both houses of legislation. This is the second year Indiana’s Congress must confront the ban, and it has already been approved in the House. However, with the reduction of the clause banning civil unions, citizens of Indiana may not see a referendum on the ban until 2016 because a piece of legislation must be approved during two consecutive sessions of Congress, and must remain in its original form. Thus, the 2013-2014 House may have approved the bill, but because of its amelioration, it must continue through yet another session even if it is also approved by the Senate.
Republican Governor of Indiana Mike Pence may be dismayed by this fact for he released a statement last month saying that he wanted to receive a decision on marriage equality during this session. In an interview with WISH-TV, Pence stated, “Let me say, I support ‘traditional’ marriage, and I expressed support for the resolution that the legislature pass during the last session, and considered at the outset of this session.” He furthered this statement by saying that he also wished to see the civil-union clause back in the bill.
This potential ban comes as a surprise, especially in light of the recent court ruling in Utah that decreed bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Furthermore, it contrasts Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s recent statement saying that he sided with proponents of marriage equality. However, according to a poll released by WISH-TV and Ball State University in 2010, 54% of Hoosiers did not support the constitutional ban on marriage equality, and only 38% approved of it. Indiana and the rest of the nation may find out by 2016 whether or not this poll truly reflects the desires of the Hoosier State.
Antony Shipman is a student at Bennington College, and is interning with GayRVA/RVA Mag for the months of January and February. Antony, who is relatively new to the world of journalism, is hoping to learn more about the business by working closely with the staff of GayRVA/RVA Mag. When not at work, Antony is likely to be found giving affection to a cat or sitting in his apartment with a book in his hands.
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