House passes same-sex marriage ban

Photo by Jeff Belmonte, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Photo by Jeff Belmonte, via Wikimedia Commons

Opponents of same-sex marriage have tried numerous times to get a ban written into the state constitution, but it looks as though the legislation may stand a real chance in coming years, starting with yesterday's vote in the state House of Representatives.

A Republican House majority — along with the help of several key Democrats — passed House Joint Resolution 6 by an overwhelming vote of 70-26.

Republicans currently control 60 of the House's 100 seats. Which means a lot of House Democrats voted in favor of the bill - eleven to be exact. We've listed them at the bottom of this post. (You can find the full roll call vote here).

Among them was Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend).

It's a perplexing vote, to say the least. The reason same-sex marriage legislation always failed in the past was precisely because they always died in the House, then led by Former Speaker Bauer. It's tough to say why those Democrats broke ranks, but one can guess the huge Republican wins in November have Democrats running scared from their usual principles.

But the resolution would not only prevent marriage. Per UPI:

The ban covers not only same-sex marriage but also anything "substantially similar," meaning the Legislature could not legalize civil unions.

Sponsor Eric Turner said the amendment would preclude a court legalizing gay marriage, as occurred in Iowa.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller endorsed the measure in a letter to the Legislature and promised to defend it.

As it stands now, the resolution would also have to pass the State Senate, which has repeatedly passed it, but would also have to come back to be passed by both chambers in a separately-elected Statehouse a second time. If that happens, the resolution goes on the ballot, to be voted on by Hoosiers in a public referendum.

If passed by referendum, the same-sex marriage ban would be written into the Indiana State Constitution, which would require the same process to undo.

The only bright side is that constitutional amendments generally take about three years to be completed, as we saw recently with the state property tax caps, which became law in November's elections.

In light of the way the country is trending with regard to GLBT rights (see Don't Ask Don't Tell), one only hopes that Hoosiers prove more in line with the the rest of the country than their legislators are, and support the expansion of civil rights in this state, not their restriction.

*Indiana House Democrats who voted for the constitutional marriage ban: Kreg Battles (Vincennes, District 64), Pat Bauer (South Bend, District 6), Dave Cheatham (North Vernon, District 69), Chet Dobis (Merrillville, District 13), Dale Grubb (Covington, District 42), Terry Goodin (Austin, District 66), Clyde Kersey (Terre Haute, District 43), Chuck Moseley (Portage, Distrct 10), David Niezgodski (South Bend, District 7), Scott Reske (Pendleton, District 37), Peggy Welch (Bloomington, District 60).