Indiana House Speaker May Stack The Deck To Pass Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

CREDIT: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R)

On Monday, the Indiana House Judiciary Committee heard four hours of testimony for and against a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage as well as any “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage,” such as, presumably, civil unions and domestic partnerships. At the conclusion of the hearing, Rep. Greg Steurwald (R) did not hold a committee vote, and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) may now be threatening members of the committee to advance the amendment.

According to a report from NWI Politics, the committee may not have the votes to pass the resolution, with at least three of the nine Republicans believed to be voting against it along with the committee’s four Democrats. Bosma has suggested he might use his power to remove members from the committee if they don’t support it:

“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 said. “The speaker, of course, has the power to move bills and has complete autonomy over committee membership.”

The rules of the Republican-controlled Indiana House authorize the speaker to change a committee’s membership at any time, though Bosma said he’s never done it before to advance legislation, and he only could recall seeing it done once during his 28 years in the House.

“Our rules clearly provide for it,” Bosma said. “Members serve at the pleasure of the speaker.”

The committee will not meet again until next Wednesday, January 22. They must act on the amendment by January 28 or it will not advance to the full House for further consideration.

State Republican leaders have been touting a poll that suggests a majority of Hoosiers support the amendment, but the methods and demographics of that poll are in question. Conservative push-polls have previously over-sampled older and more conservative voters to obtain a stronger anti-equality result. As a point of contrast, a November poll found that 58 percent of Indiana voters actually oppose using the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.