March 25, 2011

Amendment to ban same-sex marriage expected to pass Senate panel

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

A proposal to amend Indiana’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage is expected to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, says Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, the panel’s chairman.

“The marriage amendment will strengthen traditional marriage, and the Church supports it,” said Glenn Tebbe, the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) executive director, who testified before the House and Senate Judiciary panels on behalf of the Church in favor of the bill.

The proposal, House Joint Resolution 6, would add language to Indiana’s Constitution which would only allow couples consisting of one man and one woman to marry.

While this language is currently a part of Indiana law, the author of the amendment, Rep. Eric Turner,

R-Cicero, the Senate sponsor; Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn; Bray, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair; and other lawmakers believe the amendment is necessary to ensure that the law is upheld in court.

Turner said that in 2005, he assembled a group of legislators, legal scholars and experts in the field of marriage, and looked around the country at what other states were doing concerning marriage.

They found that 30 states had passed a constitutional amendment supporting traditional marriage.

“We looked at the language, and selected what we thought was best for Indiana,” Turner said. “What we selected was identical to the language in Wisconsin and Kentucky. Both those amendments have been reviewed and challenged unsuccessfully.

“There have been about 30 legal opinions written on the Wisconsin and Kentucky amendments, and they reflect what the amendment is intended to do—that is to define marriage as between one man and one woman,” Turner said. “About 20 of the constitutional amendments nationwide are very similar to the language in House Joint Resolution 6.”

Questions were raised during testimony about the possibility that the amendment would somehow affect the ability of companies or state employers to grant domestic partner benefits to unmarried same-sex couples.

“These are questions that we answered during the testimony,” Turner said. “In fact, these would not be affected. What we do know is that in other states that have enacted this language, it has not affected domestic partner benefits.

“The legislation would not allow future General Assemblies to allow a same-sex couple to get married under another name, be it ‘marriage two’ or ‘marriage junior’ or what is sometimes called a ‘civil union.’ It would not be permitted,” he said. “I believe the majority of my colleagues, and the majority of Hoosiers, believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Kruse agreed.

“Marriage is foundational to any good society. Any society over the centuries that has no longer recognized marriage as the basic fabric of society has ended,” he said.

Indiana is one of nine states that have a statute defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Indiana lawmakers passed this language in 1986. In 1997, lawmakers added to the marriage statute that Indiana would not recognize any same-sex marriage granted in another state.

Bray, an attorney, said he believes the current make up of the Indiana Supreme Court would uphold the current statute, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, but added that would not always be the case.

“… In Massachusetts and I believe in Iowa, the court stepped in and rejected the statute on marriage,” he said.

Bray said the marriage amendment will “serve as insurance against activist judges,” who want to legislate from the bench.

Bray said that he expects the resolution to pass his committee, and will pass the Senate “easily.”

“It passed with bipartisan support in the House, and I expect it to get bipartisan support in the Senate,” he said.

If the marriage amendment passes during the 2011 session, it must be passed again in identical form by the Indiana General Assembly in either the 2013 or 2014 session. Then it would be placed on the ballot for approval by voters in 2014.

If approved by voters, it would become part of Indiana’s Constitution.

(Brigid Curtis Ayer is a correspondent for The Criterion. For more information on the Indiana Catholic Conference, log on to its website at

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