A House committee has approved House Joint Resolution-3, a measure that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The amendment and its companion bill was moved to the Elections Committee yesterday in a move House Speaker Brian Bosma said was aimed at getting the measures out of committee and to the full House floor.
After more than four hours of testimony at a hearing today, the Elections Committee passed the measure with a 9-3 vote down party lines.
All Republicans voted in favor of the amendment. Three Democrats voted against it, and another Democrat was absent due to a family emergency.
The committee also passed a companion bill meant to clarify the language of the amendment with the same 9-3 vote.
Here’s how the vote broke down:
Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis
Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes
Rep. Phillip GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne
Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus (committee chair)
Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland
Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville
Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola
Rep. Jeffery Thompson, R-Lizton
Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso
Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne
Rep. Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville
Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin
During his vote, Rep. Tim Wescom, R-Osceola, was clear: he says marriage is between a man and a woman.
“I believe the people of Indiana are demanding the right to vote on whether to put that in their constitution,” he said. “I vote yes.”
Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, who voted for the amendment in 2011, says he came into the hearing undecided. He says his decision to vote no came down to thinking about the public campaign that will ensue if the amendment goes to the ballot for voters to approve in November.
“When your children or when my grandchildren have to watch the ads that are going to be on TV, are you going to be proud? Are we going to be proud, as a body, of that?” he asked before his no vote.
Immediately after the vote passed, Freedom Indiana, the bi-partisan grassroots coalition formed to oppose the amendment, sent out an email vowing to continue fighting the measure.
“Let’s make one thing clear: today’s vote isn’t proof that support for HJR-3 is on the rise — and it certainly isn’t a testament to the legislative process our opponents promised repeatedly to respect,” the email read.
Changes To Amendment Still Possible
The measure heads to the full House, but it could still face some hurdles.
There are two sentences in HJR-3. The first defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The second bans any legal status “substantially similar” to marriage.
Legal experts disagree on what the consequences of that second sentence could be.
Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne, voted for the amendment, but he says he has problems with the second sentence.
“The caucus really wanted this to come to the floor,” he said. “I can understand that. I can also understand the first part of it and the proponents’ arguments as to protection against judicial determination. But it is something that I do want to consider and, as I mentioned, if it remains intact, I certainly reserve the right to vote no on third reading.”
Cox says he wants to see the second sentence removed but isn’t planning to offer an amendment to do so.
Many believe if the amendment is altered, the ratification process would restart, potentially putting it on the ballot in 2016 rather than this fall.