After hundreds of supporters turned out at the statehouse on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary committee approved the version of HJR-3 as amended by the Indiana House a couple of weeks ago. Indiana law requires that constitutional amendments are approved by two separately elected legislatures before going to a voter referendum. In order to go to the ballot, the wording of the amendment must be unchanged. Now that the committee has sent the amended version to the full Senate, it is likely to be voted upon this coming Monday, February 17th. It is assumed that it will pass the Senate.
Supporters, mostly coordinated by Freedom Indiana, wore red at the Statehouse. Wearing red has become a tradition for the Freedom Indiana Statehouse rallies, meant to represent ‘love.’
Several Spencer Pride volunteers, including Jacob Balash and his son Truman, as well as directors Judi Epp and Kim Fidler, were in attendance at the rally. Spencer Pride volunteers have been very active on this topic, as noted in prior web posts on this site.
In 2012 the original wording of what is now the Marriage Discrimination Amendment included a second sentence that would have banned any substitution for marriage, such as civil unions. When the Indiana House of Representatives passed the amendment this year, however, they amended the wording to remove the second sentence. If this amended version is ultimately approved by the Senate, as is currently expected, it would reset the ‘clock’ for the process. That will require that another legislature approve the newly amended wording. This cannot happen until 2016. This means that the earliest that the amendment can go to the ballot would be in November of 2016.
Governor Mike Pence, who expressed his strong preference that the issue be addressed on a referendum this year, would likely be negatively impacted by having the referendum be on the same ballot as his own re-election campaign. Given the tide of support for marriage equality day after day, the extra two years will likely be enough time to sway Hoosier voters against the discriminatory amendment.
Although the amended form of HJR-3 is expected to pass the Senate when brought up for a vote, real ‘success’ would be seeing the legislature vote it down entirely. Short of that, approving the amended form is the next best option for equality-minded Hoosiers.
Stay tuned to SpencerPride.org for additional updates on this important topic.