Indiana House to Hold Hearing on Marriage Equality Ban

The proposed constitutional amendment would ban not only same-sex marriage, but any 'substantially similar' legal status providing recognition to couples not comprised of one man and one woman.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

January 11 2014 3:34 PM ET

State Rep. Eric Turner

Indiana's House Judiciary Committee is set to hear a proposed constitutional amendment Monday that opponents say could ban all legal recognitions of same-sex relationships. 

State Rep. Eric Turner, a republican, introduced House Joint Resolution 3 on Thursday, in addition to a companion bill that the sponsor says aims to clarify what the proposed constitutional amendment would not do. 

As written, HJR-3 would amend Indiana's constitution to read, "Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized," reports the Journal Gazette

The companion legislation, House Bill 1153, seeks to clarify the extent of the restrictions on relationship recognition in the state, contending that a constitutional amendment prohibiting any such recognition for same-sex couples is not intended to force private employers, state subdivisions, or educational institutions to rescind existing domestic partner benefits, nor will it invalidate existing nondiscrimination ordinances. HB1153 also claims the proposed marriage amendment is not intended to have any impact on existing legal arrangements for unmarried couples, including powers of attorney, wills, or trusts, nor does it seek to invalidate domestic violence protection laws that might currently extend to LGBT people. 

Existing Indiana law already prohibits same-sex marriage, notes David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movement, but Turner's proposed constitutional amendment would go further, asking Indianans to vote in 2014 to codify marriage discrimination in the state constitution. 

Indiana is one of just four states with statutory bans on same-sex marriage that does not also include a constitutional prohibition on the unions, reports WIBC. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the 2011 legislature with bipartisan majorities in both chambers — 70-26 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate, according to WIBC — but state law requires such a bill receive legislative assent in two consecutive sessions before it goes to the general public for a final vote.

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