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November 18, 2013

BRIAN HOWEY: Marriage amendment roils Indiana GOP

Sources: GOP Central Committee opposes measure.

With the loom-ing debate over a mar-riage amend-ment to the state consti-tution, the Indiana Republican Party is hardly one happy family living in a big tent.

Multiple sources are telling me a distinct majority of the Indiana Republican Central Committee opposes HJR-6, the resolution that would place the marriage question on the November 2014 ballot. That amendment would make marriage between “one man and one woman.” But the second sentence — “Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized” — essentially would make civil unions impossible.

There’s this pesky 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In addition, there is a roiling debate in the majority House and Senate caucuses, sources tell me. While there is not a “tipping point” near where the issue could be sidelined, there is an ongoing, often emotional, internal debate over whether the GOP would suffer at the ballot box if the referendum moves forward.

Sources say both House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long are under relentless pressure from advocates of the referendum and those opposing.

Gov. Mike Pence told me on Wednesday he wants the General Assembly to act. “You know where I stand,” Pence said when asked whether it is a priority. “I think it’s important that we let Hoosiers decide. I have every confidence that the people of Indiana can take up this issue, hear all sides, respect all viewpoints. At the end of the day I think we should let Hoosiers decide, and I’ll continue to support efforts of the General Assembly to send this question to the people of Indiana.”

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