Indiana marriage amendment may be dead this year
January 29 2004 12:00 AM ET
A proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage may not make it past the Indiana general assembly this year, but advocates on both sides of the debate believe the issue will come up year after year until the state or federal government takes action. State senator Brandt Hershman, who is sponsoring a constitutional amendment to make gay marriage illegal in the state, said the issue will be debated as long as special interest groups challenge traditional marriage in courts. "The debate should be with the voting public, not with the courts," Hershman said.
To change Indiana's constitution, two consecutive legislative sessions would have to approve the resolution, and the public would have to approve it at the ballot box. Democrats in the house have said they won't take up the issue this year, and Gov. Joe Kernan, a Democrat, has said current law doesn't need to be changed. Hershman said he's received many comments about the topic, adding that the "vast majority are in favor of the [constitutional] amendment."
Indianapolis resident Todd Rinehart, a gay man who spoke at a senate committee meeting Tuesday, said there are Indiana residents who support same-sex marriages but may not speak out strongly about the topic. He said he's not trying to destroy traditional marriage but wants a way to get the same rights married couples have, like property ownership, health insurance, and hospital visitation. Rinehart said the issue of gay marriage will be debated until the government takes action one way or another.
"It will continue to come back," he said. "The issue is of importance to both sides."
The emotional issue has already come before some Indiana courts. Marion superior court judge S.K. Reid ruled in May that Indiana's law "promotes the state's interest in encouraging procreation to occur in a context where both biological parents are present to raise the child." The Indiana Civil Liberties Union and three same-sex couples appealed that ruling. The matter is currently before the Indiana court of appeals.
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