The Indiana Senate Rules Committee voted 8-4 along party lines on Monday to push the current version of HJR-3 through to the Senate floor, which could be heard as early as Thursday by the full Senate. One dissenter didn’t hold back with his criticisms of the bill after the vote.
“We either have to look to the past or to the future,” Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) told IM after the vote. “I just don’t think that this is a proposal that the younger generation sees as a need. If we are thinking in terms of what is best for the future of our state, we won’t do this.”
Lanane was the only Rules Committee member to speak during the hearing besides the chair, Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne). He made it clear in his address that he felt the constitutional amendment was discrimination, and he followed his speech, as did his fellow Democrats, by voting no. “I was disappointed in committee that it broke down [as a partisan vote],” Lanane says. “It seems to me that we are sensing more opposition from Republicans than we have ever had in the past.”
Pulling out the messy language in HJR-3’s second sentence was conceded by most as a smart legal move, as Jackie Simmons, an Indiana University vice president, warned during a previous House Elections Committee hearing. The biggest question facing the Senate now involves whether that second sentence will be reinstated. Senators have the opportunity to draft their own amendments this week.
“It would forever prohibit the consideration of gay marriage, and it would prohibit civil unions and same-sex domestic partnership agreements or what have you,” Lanane says. “I think most people think that is going too far, even if they are not sure about gay marriage.“
“I think that there are enough members in both caucuses that view the second sentence as reopening a whole can of worms,” says Lanane. “I don’t think it will go back in. I think that, if it does not go in, it therefore has to wait a year for further consideration, or if they even wait two years, if attitudes continue to change as rapidly as they have been on this, I think in two years’ time very few people will think this is a good idea. … Most people think that we should be concentrating on other things, or they think it is wrong. They wish we would focus on jobs, health care, or other things that are important to them.“
Lanane says he can’t comment as to whether Senate Democrats will submit any amendments to HJR-3 to be considered by the House.
If you’ve been living under a rock: The constitutional amendment has been in the works for nearly a decade. The overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal level last summer kicked Indiana legislators into high gear. Supporters of HJR-3 hope to pump the brakes on same-sex marriage by putting verbiage similar to preexisting state law into the constitution. During the Indiana House session two weeks ago, the resolution’s second sentence (which bans anything “similar to a marriage” as well, chiefly meaning civil unions) was removed.