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SCOTUS Ruling Allows Indiana Vote On Gay Marriage Amendment

The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear Indiana's appeal.

Update: 4:25 p.m.

Legal experts on both sides of Indiana’s same sex marriage debate say Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings won’t impact the state in the immediate future

The Supreme Court struck down a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, meaning the federal government will have to recognize same sex marriages for couples married in the 12 states in which those marriages are legal.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the Court’s ruling in the DOMA case is a victory for state sovereignty when it comes to defining marriage.

“This is an authority that the states have traditionally had and the Supreme Court didn’t say anything other than that was an appropriate use of authority,” Zoeller says.

Yet Indiana Equality Action legal advisor Don Sherfick says the Court imposed a stricter standard for defending traditional marriage laws in states like Indiana that still have them.

“My sense is that what they’ve said to the states is, ‘Hey, this is a traditional area for you – to regulate marriage – but in doing so there’s going to be a new test here and that is whether or not you’re exercising that authority such that you don’t disadvantage popular groups,’” Sherfick says.

Sherfick says that could lead to larger questions about Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage withstanding a legal challenge.

Zoeller says he plans to discuss the legal implications of the Court’s ruling with members of the General Assembly as they prepare to vote on the amendment next session.

Update: 12:04 p.m.

Indiana Republican legislative leaders say Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings clear the way for the General Assembly to vote on a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

In statements, Senate President Pro Tem David Long and Speaker Brian Bosma both say they anticipate the legislature will vote on the marriage amendment during the 2014 session. Bosma goes a step further, predicting the amendment will be passed and placed on the ballot for Hoosiers to vote on.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane says he hopes Indiana becomes a state that supports marriage equality, asking lawmakers to put the same-sex marriage debate behind them.

Here’s the original post from Network Indiana:

Today’s expected Supreme Court ruling in a pair of gay marriage cases could determine whether Indiana lawmakers take up an amendment to the state constitution next year.

On this last day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s term, the justices will issue orders in two cases concerning same-sex marriage.

One is on Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage passed by voters in California in 2008.

The second case concerns the legality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Mary Byrne, the executive director of the gay youth support group Indiana Youth Group, says she has witnessed the change in opinion among Hoosiers.

“They’ve begun to know who in their families and who in their neighborhoods are gay. It’s becoming a non-issue. And I think that the people in Indiana are much more in favor of this than the people in the legislature,” Byrne says.

Eric Miller, the head of Advance America, says he is hoping for a ruling that will uphold heterosexual marriage.

“We believe that children are better off in a family with a man and a woman united in marriage,” he says. “We believe that society is better off. And that’s been the foundation of America, it’s been the foundation of Indiana.”

During this year‘s session, the General Assembly did not hold a second vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would have outlawed same-sex marriage. A law limiting marriage to men and women is already on the books in Indiana.

The final decisions of the Supreme Court’s term will be released at 10 a.m.

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