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Four Elkhart County lawmakers vote for HJR 3, one votes against it

Four lawmakers serving the county voted for it, one voted against it. The House passed HJR-3 Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

Posted on Jan. 28, 2014 at 9:13 p.m.

Four members of Elkhart County's delegation to the Indiana House voted for the same-sex marriage amendment proposal.

One voted against it.

The House on Tuesday, Jan. 28, passed House Joint Resolution 3 by a 57-40 margin, according to the Associated Press. Of the five representatives serving Elkhart County — all of them GOPers — Reps. Tim Neese of Elkhart, Wes Culver of Goshen, Tim Wesco of Osceola and Dave Ober of Albion voted for the measure.

Voting no was Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, according to photos of the roll call tweeted by an Indianapolis Star photojournalist.

Before the vote, Neese reiterated his belief that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman, as outlined in HJR 3. But in explaining his vote Monday to remove language from HJR 3 that would've prohibited civil unions, he expressed support for permitting such relationships between gay couples.

"The gay lifestyle is a fact of life," said Neese. Eliminating the language prohibiting civil unions in HJR 3, change approved by the House in a 52-43 vote, "was a matter of fairness."

In an e-mail, Kubacki, reiterating earlier comments skeptical of HJR 3, noted that Indiana law already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a notion she backs.

“I cannot support changing our Constitution for something that is already law,” she wrote, explaining her no vote. HJR 3, she continued, “is unnecessary and undermines the importance of preserving and protecting our Constitution."

Neese and Kubacki both voted Monday to tweak the HJR 3 language. Culver and Wesco — HJR 3 co-authors — voted against it, as did Ober. Culver and Wesco didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday on the matter.

Following Tuesday’s vote, HJR 3 moves to the Indiana Senate for consideration. Presuming Senate approval, HJR 3 was on track to be put to Indiana voters for final consideration in the Nov. 4 general election ballot. But because of Monday’s action modifying the language from a parallel measure approved by lawmakers in 2011, the earliest it would go to voters as now crafted would be in 2016, per guidelines governing the process to amend the Indiana Constitution.

Meanwhile, local foes of HJR 3 plan to continue their efforts to stall the measure. The critics have been running a phone bank operation out of he Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart and those efforts will continue, said Amy DeBeck, the reverend there.

HJR 3 would amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as the union of one woman and one man, ruling out gay marriage.

'MISPLACED PRIORITIES'

Some observers have speculated that the Indiana Senate could re-insert the wording removed by the House in Monday’s action. If so, Neese maintains that the House would then cut it out again.

“I believe if it were to come back, the House would once again vote to remove the second sentence,” said Neese. Removing the sentence, he added, makes HJR 3 more clear, more readily understandable.

Also Tuesday, Indiana House candidate Jodi Buoscio, a Democrat from Osceola, issued a statement criticizing the attention focused on HJR 3. She’s running for the post held by Wesco.

“I believe at a time when our families continue to struggle to live with smaller paychecks or find jobs, and schools are having to beg for funds to fix roofs, HJR 3 is a clear example of misplaced priorities and limited vision which continues to plague our statehouse,” Buosci said.

She noted many groups have come out against HJR 3, saying the focus needs to be “on helping all Hoosiers, not singling out a specific group for discrimination.”

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack.


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