A federal court ruling this week that ordered Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states was weighed in private discussions among Senate Republicans, and Long said he could sense momentum building for a high court ruling.
Indiana’s gay marriage fight also was playing out as federal courts in Oklahoma and Utah overturned constitutional bans and New Mexico’s high court overturned that state’s ban.
The Indiana House last month stripped from the proposal the so-called “second sentence,” which sought to ban civil unions. On Thursday, in a parliamentary move that spared state senators a tough vote, the Senate advanced the measure without restoring the language, meaning the effort to amend the Indiana Constitution must start fresh.
Even if Indiana’s marriage ban clears the Senate on a final vote Monday, it would have to be debated again in the next biennial session, 2015-2016, before it could appear before voters.
The Senate’s decision caps a sharp turnabout in Indiana, where just three years ago the constitutional ban passed the General Assembly with overwhelming majorities. But national attitudes on gay marriage have shifted sharply since then, and ban opponents were able to build a strong coalition that lobbied Indiana lawmakers heavily — privately and in public.
Indiana’s gay marriage fight also opened a rift among Republicans in the solidly conservative state. Pro-business conservatives, including many who had worked closely with former Gov. Mitch Daniels, largely lined up against the marriage ban. Social conservatives, mostly aligned with Republican Gov. Mike Pence, fought hard to shepherd the ban to the 2014 ballot.
Some of the Republican Party’s strongest fundraisers, including former George W. Bush’s economic adviser Al Hubbard and former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jim Kittle, opened their wallets for Freedom Indiana, the umbrella organization opposing the gay marriage ban.