On Monday, in a vote of 8–4, Indiana’s House Judiciary Committee passed an amendment to Indiana’s state constitution “that would ban gay marriage and civil unions in the state,” even though existing state law already prohibits legal recognition for same sex marriage or for any relationship between same sex couples. Yesterday, lawmakers went a stop further, defeating a measure that would have taken out a clause prohibiting civil unions:
Supporters of the ban also have said the “substantially similar” clause would not affect the rights of unmarried couples or stop private companies from giving gay employees health benefits that cover their partners. But opponents worry that all kinds of arrangements — from health plans to wills — could be affected.
Of about 30 states with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, about 20 also have constitutional bans on civil unions. Some opponents also were concerned that courts would be tasked with defining “substantially similar.”
Eric Turner, R-Marion, who authored the measure, said the language of the ban had been thoroughly reviewed by lawyers. A co-author of the measure, Dave Cheatham, D-North Vernon, said the resolution “is not against anyone; it’s not trying to hurt anyone.”
The House and Senate are expected to approve the amendment, but under Indiana law, it “would have to pass again in 2013 or 2014 in order to get on the ballot in 2014.” A similar ban passed the House in 2005, but ultimately failed when the Democrats took over in 2006.
Currently, Indiana has almost no protections for LGBT residents. Discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is not explicitly prohibited under Indiana law.