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House committee ends hearing without vote on marriage amendment

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After more than three hours of testimony, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee recessed Monday without taking a vote on the constitutional marriage amendment and accompanying bill.

Committee chairman Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, ended the hearing by announcing the members would not be voting so they could weigh the testimony they had heard.

Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, introduced HJR 3, the marriage amendment which bans same-sex unions, and his companion legislation, House Bill 1153, which serves to explain the Legislature’s intent primarily behind the controversial second sentence of the proposed constitutional provision.

The House Chamber and gallery were filled to capacity for the meeting with a large crowd gathered standing outside in the Statehouse hallway. Many of the opponents of the amendment and bill wore red shirts and blue stickers printed with the logo for Freedom Indiana, an organization working to defeat the amendment.

Executives from Cummins Inc., Eli Lilly and Co., the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Indiana University spoke in opposition of the amendment and bill. They and others against the proposals emphasized the measures would hurt the state’s efforts to compete in the global market and recruit top talent to Indiana.

They also framed the debate as being about a civil rights issue, asserting the amendment discriminated against a particular segment of society.  

Supporters of the measure included outside groups Alliance Defending Freedom and Heritage Foundation as well as Indiana organizations of Advance America and the Indiana Family Institute.

They emphasized the state had an interest in defining marriage as between one man and one woman because this creates the most stable environment in which to raise children. In addition, they argued that businesses would not be harmed and that domestic partner benefits would not be endangered by the amendment.

Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee were active in questioning Turner and supporters of the amendment. Republican members did not pose any questions to any of the participants.

If the proposed amendment is passed by both the Indiana House and Senate this session, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

Opponents urged the Judiciary Committee to vote against the proposal, saying the debate alone would harm Indiana. Supporters framed the debate as part of the democratic process, saying the Legislature and residents should have the right to define marriage instead of the courts.
 

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