Indiana Republicans throw a tantrum over gay marriage ban
February 25 2004 12:00 AM ET
The debate over Indiana's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage threatens to overshadow other matters in the closing days of Indiana's legislature after the house ground to a halt over the issue. Democratic house of representatives speaker Patrick Bauer has tried to steer clear of the issue, saying the ban in current state law is sufficient. But Republicans say the sanctity of marriage is at stake, and they may continue a boycott of the chamber unless Bauer at least gives them a chance to advance the proposed amendment. "It's clear that this is the single issue of grave importance to our state that can be dealt with in the remaining time," house Republican leader Brian Bosma said Tuesday.
A group of Democrats seeking gay rights said that if Republicans truly want to preserve marriage, they would be focusing on divorce rates, not limits on who can marry. The Stonewall Democrats want Republicans to disclose who among them has been divorced. "It seems clear to me that people are willing to put conditions and constrictions on my life and others in Indiana when they are not willing to make the kinds of commitments to a relationship I make myself," said Linda Perdue, the group's president.
The closely divided house, which Democrats control 51-49, came to a standstill Monday as Republicans sought a vote to override Bauer's decision to shelve the proposed amendment. The amendment passed with bipartisan support in the GOP-controlled senate. Republicans refused to take the floor Monday, preventing action on other bills, and may continue the boycott when the house reconvenes Wednesday unless Bauer allows a vote on their motion to "blast" the proposal from committee to the floor.
The procedural maneuver is rarely tried, and one veteran lawmaker said it has never succeeded during his 34 years in the house.