Report analyzes marriage rights as amendment vote looms 

A report researched by a group of Indiana University students finds that 614 laws in Indiana provide rights or responsibilities to Hoosiers based on marriage and family, which could make them unavailable to same-sex couples under a proposed constitutional amendment.

The report - released Monday by Indiana Equality and students from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law - comes just weeks before lawmakers are expected to take up a proposed amendment that would put a same-sex marriage ban in the Indiana Constitution and prohibit laws that grant rights that are similar to marriage to unmarried couples.

The General Assembly has already approved the amendment once. It needs a second approval in 2013 or 2014 to go to the voters for ratification.

The report is intended to show that the second part of the proposed amendment - which prohibits laws granting marriage-like rights to unmarried couples - would not just ban so-called civil unions. It could also stop the legislature from giving same-sex couples some individual rights or benefits, according to Indiana Equality.

"Awareness of how pervasive these rights and obligations are within Indiana's statutes is important to meaningful dialogue concerning a proposed amendment to Indiana's Constitution that would invalidate and prohibit recognition of any 'legal status' identical or 'substantially similar' to marriage for unmarried couples," the report says.

Among the laws documented in the report:

* For purposes of Medicaid, "immediate family" includes spouse and dependent children under 21 years of age.

* The spouse of a mentally ill individual may initiate a proceeding to commit that individual to an appropriate institution.

* A spouse may request the health records of a deceased spouse.

* A spouse is not legally responsible for the contracts his or her spouse signs or the civil harms she causes.

This story will be updated following a press conference Monday afternoon.

- Statehouse File staff report

The Statehouse File is a news service powered by Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism students and faculty.

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