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Monday, April 21, 2014

Indiana gay marriage amendment discussed for nearly 4 hours Monday, vote delayed

The Indiana House Judiciary Committee heard testimonies on a bill that would add a gay marriage ban to Indiana's constitution on Monday morning, Jan. 13.

Posted on Jan. 13, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 13, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.

There was no committee vote Monday on a highly controversial proposal to add an amendment to the Indiana state constitution defining marriage between one man and one woman.

The decision to delay the vote comes after the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly four hours of testimony both for and against the bill, known as House Joint Resolution 3 or HJR-3, and its companion bill HB 1153.

The proposed amendment would ban gay marriage and anything "similar" to gay marriage. Supporters and opponents disagree on whether the proposal would also bar benefits for same-sex couples.

Because the testimonies ran over on time, the meeting adjourned without the vote, which would have passed the amendment to the full House of Representatives to consider. House Judiciary Commitee Chairman Gregory Steuerwald said the committee would not vote Monday so that the committee would have time to consider the testimonies given. He did not say when the committee would reconvene.

The panel began at 10 a.m. with Steuerwald announcing the parameters of the hearing: each side would be given one hour and 15 minutes for testimony, with some time built in. A total of 40 speakers were scheduled to speak. HJR-3 sponsor Rep. Eric Turner introduced HJR-3 and its companion bill, House Bill 1153 before opening the floor for testimony.

Supporters of the amendment said Monday that it was needed to protect against any court decisions overturning the existing state ban on gay marriage.

But opponents testified that Indiana's national and global image is suffering. Executives with Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc. spoke of their trouble attracting talent to the state.

HJR-3 has brought much local support and criticism. Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore and Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman both announced their opposition to the bill in December, when it was known as HJR-6. The Elkhart Truth published an editorial on Sunday, Jan. 12, stating its opposition to the amendment.

The bill was authored by State Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero. Among the three co-authors are Tim Wesco, a Republican from Osceola, and State Rep. Wes Culver, a Goshen Republican. State Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, is the third co-author.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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