Politics & Government
4:00 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Bill Aims to Clarify Gay Marriage Ban; Legislators Disagee On Its Meaning

Indiana Senate President Pro-Tem David Long at the statehouse Thursday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Republican legislative leaders say a companion bill to the state’s proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage is meant to ease concerns some have expressed over the potential effect of the amendment. 

But GOP leaders still can’t agree on what the amendment or companion bill will do.

Listen to Brandon Smith's story on a new companion bill to the state's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

There are two sentences in the same sex marriage ban amendment, formerly referred to as HJR-6 and now called HJR-3.  The first sentence says marriage can only be between one man and one woman.  The second bans a legal status substantially similar to marriage for unmarried individuals and has been interpreted by some to exclude private companies and local governments from offering benefits to same sex couples. 

Senate President Pro Tem David Long says a companion bill to the amendment takes some of the “sting” out of passing the amendment.

“I think this is the best way to go about it, to make a very clear statement from the legislature as to what we believe the law says and a very clear path for the courts as far as where we think they should not go,” Long said.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says the companion bill indicates the amendment prohibits civil unions but not domestic partnerships.  Long says the companion bill leaves open the possibility of both civil unions and domestic partnerships. 

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane says that confusion alone is proof that the amendment should be halted.

“They’ve got some sort of a monster they’ve created and now they’re trying to dress up or make the monster a little bit prettier,” Lanane said. “It’s still discrimination.”

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the marriage amendment Monday.