Despite the best efforts of Republicans to maneuver it through the Indiana legislature, a state constitutional amendment that would ban marriage equality looks like it won’t make it onto the ballot this year. Even though the measure is only two sentences long, it turns out that one of the sentences is too odious even for marriage opponents.
At issue is the passage in the amendment that would ban lawmakers from creating a separate category, such as civil unions, to recognize gay relationships. During a vote by the state House of Representatives Monday night, that proved to be too much for 23 Republicans and 29 Democrats, who voted to strip the sentence from the amendment. The remaining sentence would amend the state Constitution to limit marriage to between and a man–classic overkill, since a marriage ban is already law in the state.
The vote starts the clock running again on the process for a constitutional amendment. Because the language in the amendment has changed, it has to be approved in a second legislative session. As a result, the amendment cannot appear on the ballot now until 2016 at the earliest.
Ironically, many of those who voted against the civil union sentence support amending the state Constitution. And many of the legislators voted for the entire measure as is when the legislature approved it in 2011.
One of them, GOP Rep. Kevin Mahan, said he changed his mind after voters told him the second sentence was overly restrictive. “You can be safe or you can be brave,” he told his colleagues.
Supporters of the amendment have been pushing incredibly hard for passage this year, likely knowing that the window passing such measures is closing rapidly. Statistician Nate Silver has projected that by 2016 Indiana will be pretty much evenly divided on the issue of marriage equality. Up against those odds, don’t be surprised if anti-marriage legislators try to salvage their amendment. The good news is that now they are the ones facing the uphill battle.
Photo credit: Freedom Indiana