Republican lawmakers announced Thursday they are delaying action on a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Despite a Republican supermajority in both state houses, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long cited an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case in their decision to wait.
“We think it’s prudent to wait because we have 2014 to vote on it, and if the Supreme Court gives the states a clean bill of health, makes it a states’ rights decision, as it very well might, then we will be able to move forward with any questions about the constitutionality of this provision,” Long says.
After easily passing the General Assembly in 2011, the proposed marriage amendment requires passage by the legislature again either this year or next before potentially landing on the 2014 election ballot for ratification by voters.
Long says there were a few members of his caucus who wanted to push forward this year, but the majority opted to wait.
Indiana equal rights groups are cheering the decision.
Indiana Equality Action executive director Rick Sutton, whose organization opposes the amendment, applauds what he says is a courageous decision by the legislature.
“We think it’s prudent, we think it’s smart,” he says. “We think waiting until the Supreme Court is finished is the right thing to do, so we’re glad it happened.”
National opinion on the issue of gay marriage has appeared to shift in recent years, with three states approving same-sex unions in November’s election. Even though recent polls show only about half of Hoosiers now support the state’s existing law making marriage solely between a man and a women, there is likely enough support in the Indiana General Assembly to pass a second round of votes and allow voters to choose whether to add the language to the state’s constitution.
But House Speaker Brian Bosma professed a different reading of the numbers.
“HJR 6 is still supported by a majority of Hoosiers significantly,” he says. “That’s my statistical analysis of it and it’s proven to be correct in the past and I think it continues that way.”
The legislator will likely take up the bill next year, and Sutton says his organization is still gearing up for a fight.
“If you love politics, you love time,” Sutton says. “I think any time we had to convince 150 legislators that HJR 6 is the wrong thing to do, that’s the time we want on our side. Time is our friend.”
Sutton says if the General Assembly approves the amendment next year and sends it to the ballot box, he believes Hoosier voters will ultimately reject it.