In the hubbub leading to what ended up being a fairly short discussion of House Joint Resolution 3, a change put forth by Indiana Sen. Joe Zakas generated a splash of attention.
It only called for technical changes to HJR 3, the proposal to ban gay marriage considered by the Indiana Senate on Thursday, Feb. 13. But if approved, it could have forced renewed discussion in the House on the matter, media outlets reported, and possible moves to put the so-called second sentence back into the amendment proposal.
Zakas, though, a Republican from Granger whose district includes northwest Elkhart County, including part of Elkhart, dismissed any suggestion he was trying through subterfuge to push the issue. The second sentence, which would have prohibited civil unions, was removed late last month from HJR 3 by the House, to the chagrin of some HJR 3 backers.
While he supported reinsertion of the second sentence, the intent behind his proposal was simply to clean up HJR 3 visually, said Zakas, an HJR 3 backer. His measure called for removal of the number one in parenthesis, "(1)," in two spots in the amendment proposal.
"Take out redundancies and make it an easier read," Zakas said Thursday, after the Senate deliberations. As is, HJR 3, just one sentence long, reads: "Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana."
Whatever his motives, the push to put the second sentence back in fizzled Thursday. State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, had such a proposal, but he never formally put it forward, he said, lacking the necessary votes. Similarly, Zakas said his proposal didn't have sufficient support so he never put it up for consideration.
The Senate still has to formally vote on the one-sentence version of HJR 3, perhaps as early as next Monday. Presuming passage, lawmakers would have to approve it again in 2015 or 2016 and then it would go to voters for final consideration as a ballot question in November 2016.
Had the second sentence been put back in, HJR 3 could have been put to voters for final consideration in this November's election. The two-sentence version received Senate and House backing in 2011 and a second round of approval this year would have paved the way for earlier submission to voters, per the amendment process.
In explaining support for including the second sentence in HJR 3, Zakas said some courts have ruled that civil unions resemble marriage and that they're "kind of a way in." He backs defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, he indicated, because heterosexual unions lead to procreation.
"If society's going to have a future, then there's going to have to be children," he said. "So favoring the bond of a man and a woman is just common-sense public policy."