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Committee Sends HJR-3 To Full Senate Without Amendments

A group of HJR-3 supporters hold signs in favor of traditional marriage at the Indiana statehouse.

Update 7:15 p.m.:

A Senate committee today approved HJR-3, the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

The debate surrounding the measure shifted during Monday’s hearing, focusing more on the restoration of the amendment’s controversial second sentence:

The House removed HJR-3’s second sentence, which bans civil unions, after concerns were raised it could prohibit domestic partnership benefits.

Proponents of the measure, including Governor Mike Pence, are calling on the Senate to reinsert that language.

Doug Mainwaring, who identifies as gay, says he recently recommitted to his ex-wife after realizing the importance of traditional marriage. He says the second sentence’s ban on civil unions helps ensure traditional marriage isn’t undermined.

“The state should not incentivize relationships that intentionally deprive children of either a mom or a dad,” he says.

Jennifer Fisher, who identifies as lesbian, lives in Fort Wayne with her partner. She says if the Senate can’t reject HJR-3 outright, it at least shouldn’t reinsert the second sentence.

“Because that is the sentence that means that I have no protection with my family,” she says. “It means that my partner and I have no valid relationship in Indiana.”

Senate President Pro Tem David Long is remaining mum about whether he thinks the Senate should reinsert the controversial second sentence of HJR3, the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

Proponents of the measure, including Governor Mike Pence, are calling on the Senate to reinsert the second sentence. 

Long won’t say which way he’ll vote if the full Senate tries to reinsert the second sentence. But he says whether House lawmakers will support HJR-3 if returned to them in its original form won’t impact him.

“And we really have to just stick to what we think we should do here in the Senate and what a majority of the senators decide to do will be what ultimately happens,” Long says. “We can’t speculate on what the House will or won’t do and I think that’s the right approach and that’s the way we’ll try to approach it here.”

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane says approving HJR-3 would insert discrimination into the state constitution.

“We certainly cannot put that second clause back into this proposal.  It just causes all types of problems,” he says.

Long says he wants HJR-3 to come up on the floor for potential changes Thursday, though he says that decision will rest with his caucus.

The committee approved the measure 8-4.

It now heads to the floor, where the full Senate could consider reinserting the second sentence as early as Thursday.

Update 5:29 p.m.:

The Senate committee approves HJR-3 in its current form without the second sentence in an 8-4 vote along party lines. The measure now heads to Senate floor.

Update 4:34 p.m.:

Testimony in the Senate hearing on HJR-3 today is focusing on the same topics covered in previous testimony in the House.

That includes the economic impact the amendment would have on the state and arguments relating to religious freedom.

But pro-HJR-3 testimony additionally focused on asking Senators to restore the second sentence, which outlaws civil unions. Doing so would likely send the bill to the voters this year instead of in 2016.

Protestors both opposing and supporting HJR-3 lined up to get into the Senate gallery hours before the hearing started.

Original Story:

The legislative debate over HJR-3 restarts this week as the Senate takes up the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

HJR-3 arrives in the Senate very different than when it first started in the House.  Gone is the measure’s second sentence, which bans civil unions.

After concerns were raised that the second sentence could prohibit domestic partnership benefits, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers removed it, which would also restart the ratification process, potentially putting the amendment on the ballot not this fall, but in 2016.

Governor Mike Pence is calling on the Senate to reinsert the second sentence and end the debate on the issue this year.  HJR-3 will be heard in a Senate committee Monday, where it’s eligible to be changed.

But Senate President Pro Tem David Long says he wants the move the measure out of committee unchanged, leaving it open to alteration on the Senate floor.

If HJR-3 is passed out of committee Monday as Long intends, it could be eligible for changes on the floor Thursday.

This story will be updated. Jashin Lin contributed to this report.

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