INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Senate’s decision to advance a proposed ban on gay marriage without also blocking civil unions has reset the clock on the issue getting to voters, setting the stage for continuing fights for at least two years.
Opponents won a surprising victory Thursday when the Senate refused to restore a ban on civil unions that had been stripped by the House. In Indiana, a proposed constitutional amendment must twice be approved by the Legislature — unchanged and in consecutive biennial legislative sessions — before making the ballot.
That means the proposed ban, which sailed through the GOP-controlled Legislature during the 2011-2012 session, won’t make the November ballot. The soonest it could go before voters is now 2016.
But supporters vowed to continue fighting. Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said: “We will be back next year, pushing to take this issue to the people of Indiana.”
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said Senate Democrats also will do everything they can to keep the issue off the table.
“This is not something future Hoosiers say is a good idea,” said Lanane, a Democrat from Anderson. “It’s not good for the future of Indiana, and it’s not good for the future of the nation.”
Senate President Pro Tem David Long said he was ready to continue the debate in 2015 and 2016, but the Republican expected the courts to be the final arbiter.
“In reality, I think the issue is going to be before the United States Supreme Court — as I’ve said before — and it’s either going to be a state’s rights issue, and each state decides for itself, or it’s going to be decided by the Supreme Court that it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment,” Long said.
“One way or another, they’re going to have the final say in this, because the U.S. Constitution trumps a state constitution.”