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Two Elkhart County lawmakers sign on as co-authors of same-sex marriage ban legislation

Rep. Tim Wesco's role as co-author of the marriage amendment measure stems from his strong support.
Posted on Jan. 12, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

Two state lawmakers serving Elkhart County have signed on as co-authors of the controversial marriage amendment measure up for consideration by the Indiana legislature, underscoring their strong support for the proposal.

“I believe it’s time for voters to have the opportunity to vote on it,” State Rep. Tim Wesco, one of the two lawmakers, said Friday, Jan. 10.

That isn’t deterring local foes of the measure, though.

“It doesn’t dampen my intention at all. It doesn’t dampen my spirit,” said the Rev. Amy DeBeck, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart, one of several volunteers here pushing against the measure.

Lawmakers on Thursday formally introduced the measure calling for a vote in November elections on whether to amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. That would effectively prohibit same-sex marriage.

The high-profile measure, House Joint Resolution 3, is generating broad attention and among the three co-authors are Wesco, a Republican from Osceola, and State Rep. Wes Culver, a Goshen Republican. State Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, is the author and State Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, is the third co-author.

Wesco’s district includes part of western Elkhart County, including southern Elkhart, while Culver represents Goshen and much of eastern Elkhart County.

Wesco co-authored House Joint Resolution 6 in 2011, the predecessor legislation to HJR 3, and he said his status as co-author of HJR 3 reflects his commitment to the measure. Being co-author of a measure, he said, mainly serves to reflect a lawmaker’s strong support. He won’t necessarily have a central role in guiding the bill along the legislative process, Wesco said, but he’ll be involved.

“I’ll certainly advocate for the bill with my colleagues on a one-on-one basis and in other ways,” Wesco said in a phone interview.

Culver didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

HJR 3 — the same as HJR 6, but renamed when it was introduced for the 2014 session — will be the focus of debate Monday in the Indiana House Judiciary Committee. Similar resolutions calling for constitutional amendment questions must be approved by two separately elected legislatures.

AMENDMENT FOES WON’T LET UP

Wesco and Culver have been steadfast in their support for amending the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Both maintain that heterosexual marriages lead to stronger families and, consequently, a stronger society.

Similarly, much of the rest of the delegation representing Elkhart County in Indianapolis has voiced support for the marriage amendment question, including State Reps. Tim Neese and David Ober and State Sens. Joe Zakas and Carlin Yoder, all Republicans. State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, also a Republican, has expressed reservations, in part because Indiana law already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The strong backing by the local legislative delegation notwithstanding, DeBeck, who’s working with Freedom Indiana, doesn’t plan to stop her efforts against the amendment proposal. Freedom Indiana is a statewide group formed to defeat the amendment plans.

Around a dozen volunteers meet weekly to work phone banks, calling voters around Indiana, DeBeck said, and they even worked independently at their respective homes during the snowstorm earlier in the week. DeBeck has voiced her opposition to the amendment proposal as a matter of defending the rights and freedoms of everybody, including the gay community.




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