Group Seeks To Get HJR-3 On This Year’s Ballot

The National Organization for Marriage wants to put HJR-3 on the ballot despite lawmakers passing a measure indicating it must be approved in 2015 or 2016.

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Photo: ElectraSteph (Flickr)

Freedom Indiana members opposed to HJR-3 packed the statehouse whenever lawmakers considered the amendment.

One of the outside groups who pressed the General Assembly to approve a ban on gay marriage will try to find a way to get the proposed constitutional amendment on this year‘s ballot, even though that isn‘t supposed to be possible.

“The Legislature has affirmed marriage as the union one man and one woman, both in statute and in passing the first sentence of HJR-3 two successive legislative sessions. We believe that language should go to the ballot this year,” said Chris Plante, regional director for the National Organization for Marriage, based in Washington.

State law says that proposed amendments to the Constitution have to be approved twice with no change in language in order to go before voters. The marriage amendment approved by the General Assembly this year did not include a sentence that also banned same-sex civil unions, unlike the version passed in 2011.

Also, the first section of the amendment says that it has been “referred to the next General Assembly for reconsideration and agreement.”

The coalition opposed to the proposed gay marriage ban in Indiana doesn‘t buy the National Organization for Marriage’s claim that it‘s possible to get the constitutional amendment on this November‘s ballot.

“They talked a lot about how this shouldn‘t be in the hands of activist judges and how this should be decided by the people, and frankly it was decided by the people,” said Megan Robertson with Freedom Indiana. “The legislature voted, they decided there were some changes that needed to be made in the language and that it wouldn‘t go to the ballot this year.”

But Plante says he believes there is a precedent in Indiana “where a proposed amendment was passed by one session and then amended in a second session, yet the first clause of that amendment was put on the ballot that year.”

Robertson isn‘t swayed.

“They‘ve said they‘ve talked to the Speaker,” she says. “I can‘t verify that, but my guess is that they haven‘t talked to [Senate President Pro Tem David] Long, who has said several times this can‘t go to the ballot,” she says.

Plante‘s claim also runs counter to that from other groups who supported HJR-3 and opposed removing the amendment‘s civil unions ban.

“Hoosier voters will not be able to vote to protect marriage this November. This is indeed a disappointing setback,” read a statement from the Indiana Family Institute after HJR-3 in its new form was approved by the State Senate this week.

No lawsuits have been filed. Plante says he has spoken with some state lawmakers about pursuing this year‘s ballot and says they are “considering all their options” as of now.

As of now, the earliest HJR-3 could appear on the ballot is 2016.

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