House Speaker Brian Bosma has spent months working behind the scenes to approve an amendment banning gay marriage while publicly keeping the measure at arm’s length, promising it would run its normal democratic course in the Statehouse. Until last week.
Bosma’s public revelation he was ready to change the makeup of the House Judiciary Committee in order to advance the measure showed just how much pressure is being applied outside the public eye to ensure the proposed ban advances.
Bosma has spent hours inside private meetings of the Republican caucus pushing the amendment. Routine meetings of House committees have been thrown off track as rank-and-file Republicans have tried to figure out when the marriage debate would hit the full House.
The first hint that things might not go according to plan came last Monday, after the House Judiciary Committee heard close to four hours of testimony. Committee Chairman Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, ended the committee without holding a planned vote, amid speculation a handful of wavering Republicans could spike the measure.
The prospect the amendment might be defeated inside a single House committee finally drew Bosma out into the spotlight.
“I’ve said one person shouldn’t make the decision; we’ve got to figure out if a couple people ought to make the decision for all Hoosiers,” Bosma told The Times in Munster last week. “The speaker, of course, has the power to move bills and has complete autonomy over committee membership.”
Legislative leaders of any chamber in any state have many tricks at their disposal when they want to advance priorities. Procedure and rules allow them to do all but stop time and space. In some cases on the final day of session, presiding officers have been known to physically stop clocks on chamber walls to pass final measures, even as actual time ticked on.