UPDATE 2/17/14: HJR 3 gained final approval by the Indiana Senate, largely along party lines. While the bill passed by a vote of 32-17, the issue will not go before voters this November. The earliest a resolution could appear on a ballot would be November 2016, as the new language must be approved by a newly elected General Assembly.
A number of Senate Democrats delivered floor remarks, condemning the placement of what they characterized as discrimination into the state’s constitution. Remarks by State Senator Tallian>>
What is HJR-3?
House Joint Resolution (HJR) 3 is a controversial proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana. A ban on same-sex marriage is already in state law. Originally passed in 2011 as HJR-6, the resolution needs to pass a second General Assembly in the same wording before it becomes a ballot issue to be voted on in November.
Opponents of the ban, including Eli Lilly, Cummins, IU Health and many universities around the state called on lawmakers to defeat the legislation as it would make recruiting and retaining top employees more difficult. Opponents pointed to the second sentence of the resolution, which banned “any legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage,” as particularly troubling as it may call the legality of domestic partnerships benefits offered by some universities and cities into question. According to a poll conducted last October by nonpartisan Ball State University and WISH-TV, 58 percent of Hoosiers oppose an amendment to the constitution banning same sex marriage.
House of Representatives action thus far
HJR-3 originated in the House of Representatives and was first assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, but was later reassigned to the House Elections Committee after the committee chair in the Judiciary Committee declined to vote on the resolution. After hours of public testimony, the proposal passed the committee by a party line vote and moved to the full House of Representatives for further consideration.
By a vote of 57-40, the House of Representatives approved a modified version of HJR-3. In earlier action, House members deleted the second sentence of HJR-3 that would have potentially barred civil unions and similar domestic partnerships. The resolution that arrived in the Senate only contained language defining marriage between one man and one woman.
By altering the amendment’s language, the approval process requiring a resolution amending the constitution to pass two separately elected General Assemblies would likely have to start over, delaying the initiative from heading to voters until November 2016.
Senate action thus far
The Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee voted on party lines to send HJR-3 without amendments to the full Senate for consideration. Committee members from the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus voted in unison to oppose the amendment.
The proposal was considered by the full Senate on second reading, where any member of the Senate could have offered an amendment. Though amendments were filed that would have reinserted the controversial second sentence, none were heard on the floor and the resolution advanced in the same form it arrived in.
HJR-3 could receive a final vote in the Senate as early as Monday, February 17. Since the second sentence was not re-inserted into the proposal, the proposed constitutional amendment would need to be considered and approved by a separate General Assembly before it would be placed on the ballot in 2016.
Click here for the full audio of Senator Lanane’s speech to concerned citizens at the statehouse>>