February 13, 2014 | by Chris Johnson
Indiana won’t see anti-gay amendment on 2014 ballot
Indiana State House, gay news, Washington Blade

Indiana State House (Photo by Jason82; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Indiana Senate adjourned on Thursday without considering any amendments on a proposed measure that would ban same-sex marriage in the state — a development LGBT advocates say is positive because it means the measure won’t come before voters in 2014.

Without any discussion, the Senate went through second reading of the measure banning same-sex marriage in Indiana, which had already passed the state House of Representatives. No one during that time offered any amendments to the measure.

Prior to Senate consideration, the House amended the proposed legislation before passing it, removing a sentence that banned civil unions and a potential block of workplace benefits to same-sex couples. The second reading offered the Senate an opportunity to restore that language.

Because no amendments were offered, LGBT advocates are claiming victory, saying the measure won’t come before voters this fall.

Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson said in a statement the development on Thursday was “a huge victory.”

“Six months ago, if you’d said lawmakers would refuse to put this issue on the ballot in 2014 by stripping out the deeply flawed second sentence, I’d have said there’s no way,” Robertson said. “What happened today at the Statehouse is a testament to the tens of thousands of Hoosiers who have shared their stories with lawmakers and with the public to show the harm this amendment would do to their families and our state. It’s clear that lawmakers listened.”

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, echoed the sense that the developments on Thursday were cause for celebration.

“Today’s action is a welcome step back from the brink, ensuring that Indiana’s families will not be subjected to a harsh campaign that would add cruel and unconstitutional language to Indiana’s state constitution this November,” Wolfson said. “This reflects the growing momentum for the freedom to marry the person you love, and a repudiation of the effort to strip gay Hoosiers and their families of legal protections and respect.”

For a state constitutional amendment to appear before Indiana voters at the ballot, lawmakers must first approve it in two consecutive legislative sessions — with the exact same language. The Indiana Legislature had already approved the language with the original language in 2011. Different language means it won’t appear on the 2014 ballot. The legislature will have to approve it again with that language next session for it to appear on the 2016 ballot.

Marriage equality is already illegal in Indiana by statute, but the proposed amendment, HJR-3, would make the ban part of the state constitution.

A number of prominent organizations within Indiana were against the amendment, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association. Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, voiced opposition to the measure at a Freedom Indiana fundraiser in December shortly after her sister, Liz Cheney, stated opposition to same-sex marriage as a U.S. Senate candidate.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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