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Report: Marriage Amendment Impacts 600 Legal Provisions

A close-up of the bride's bouquet.

More than 600 provisions of the Indiana code dealing with marriage could be impacted by a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex unions, according to a new report compiled by Indiana University law students and advocacy group Indiana Equality Action.

The proposed amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved for the first time by the General Assembly last year, defines marriage as between a man and a woman and says that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. The amendment must be approved a second time before it goes to a public referendum.

A group of IU law students with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project researched how much of the Indiana code would be affected by the amendment. Project executive board member Donald Bierer says, of the 614 impacted provisions, not all are about rights denied to same sex couples.

“But also that the broader public is denied conflict-of-interest protections for certain business and political activities that are prohibited for opposite sex married couples,” he says.

That includes conflict of interest rules governing precinct election officers and judges.  Indiana Equality Action’s Rick Sutton, whose organization is against the amendment, says the volume of affected provisions could lead to a tidal wave of lawsuits and legal challenges.

“We believe that this study will serve as an ideal starting point for discussion amongst common sense Hoosiers,” Sutton says.

Sutton says he expects the amendment to pass the legislature once again in 2013 but says he has more confidence it will fail in its final step as a ballot referendum. Cicero Republican Representative Eric Turner, the amendment’s sponsor, could not be reached for comment.

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