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Vocal opponents decry Indiana gay marriage amendment

Vocal opponents decry Indiana gay marriage amendment

A constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Indiana cleared another legislative hurdle Monday after an emotional debate, ending with opponents shouting "Shame!" at committee members and security escorting two people from the house chambers. The house judiciary committee passed the resolution 9-3 after listening to more than two hours of debate. Opponents screamed "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as the vote was taken inside the house chambers. They then left the house chamber where the hearing was held, and about 100 people gathered outside the office of Gov. Mitch Daniels, shouting the same slogan. After a few minutes the crowd walked outside and marched around the statehouse, some carrying wooden caskets to symbolize the death of equal protection for all, of statehouse leaders' reputations, and of economic progress. Jeff Miner of Indianapolis was one of two people who Republican representative Ralph Foley of Martinsville, chairman of the committee, ordered from the chamber while the vote was being taken. He had asked the opponents several times to behave themselves, saying the meeting was not a rally. "It's very symbolic, isn't it, when they kick the people out of the statehouse?" Miner said outside the building. "You know, at some point you just have to reach the point where you say 'Enough,' and whether it's strategically helpful or not, it is necessary to bear witness against bigotry and prejudice. Whether it helps us or hurts us, we can't be silent anymore." The proposed amendment passed the Republican-ruled senate last month with bipartisan support and, after Monday's committee endorsement, is now pending before the full GOP-controlled house. Amending the constitution requires a resolution to pass consecutive, separately elected general assemblies and then be approved in a statewide vote. If the proposal passes this year and again in 2007 or 2008, it could be on the November ballot in 2008. The senate passed a similar resolution last year, but Democrats who then controlled the house blocked attempts by Republicans in that chamber to advance or even debate the proposal. All 49 Republicans had pledged to support it, and the party now has a 52-48 majority.(AP)

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