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Senate Leader Reassigns HJR-3 To New Committee

The constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage will be heard next in the Senate Rules Committee.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long announced today he will assign HJR-3, the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, to the House Rules Committee and hopes to get it to the floor without changes.

Long last week said he would assign HJR-3 to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it had been in 2011.

But he says he decided to change his mind because he feels the Rules Committee is a more appropriate venue, not because he had any doubts the Judiciary Committee would pass the measure.

Long notes the Rules Committee is larger, with an extra Democratic and Republican member.

“Secondly, the entire leadership group of both Republican and Democrat Senators sits on the committee and third, there are seven committee chairs on that committee,” Long says. “So there’s a true leadership group in the Indiana Senate.”

Long says he wants to move HJR-3 out of committee without making any changes to the measure, including reinserting the second sentence banning civil unions, which was removed in the House. But he says he won’t block any amendments on the Senate floor.

Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson says her coalition’s strategy won’t change.

“It’s a more deliberative body, obviously,” she says. “It seems like they’ve put a lot of thought into the process and how they’d like to have it play out. Our strategy is the same that it’s been the whole time, which is we’d like to kill this thing out right and certainly we want to make sure that the second sentence does not get added back in.”

Long declined to give his personal opinion on HJR-3’s second sentence, saying he’ll make his feelings known at the right time.  He plans on holding the Rules Committee hearing early in the week of Feb. 10.

Citing concerns that the sentence could impact domestic partnership benefits, a bi-partisan coalition voted to remove it from the bill. That could restart the amendment process and push back a vote to 2016.

Long says he believes the amendment would have the votes to pass either committee.

But he says he would prefer that the bill reach the floor unchanged before starting a debate over whether to restore the sentence banning civil unions.

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