Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 7, co-sponsored by State Representative Andy Thomas (R-Brazil), passed out of the House by a vote of 76-23. The legislation will begin the process of creating a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The joint resolution passed the Senate last month by a vote of 43-7.
"We need to make sure marriage is between one man and one woman," said Rep. Thomas. "We cannot allow the courts to overturn our statute, as recently done in California."
A similar resolution was introduced in the House during the last legislative session after the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (ICLU) sued Marion County on behalf of three same-sex couples for failure to recognize their unions as marriages in 2003. The resolution died after then- Speaker of the House, Pat Bauer, refused to allow a vote and refused to allow debate on it in committee and on the House floor. The trial court upheld Indiana's law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, the ICLU, on behalf of the three couples, challenged the decision in the Indiana Court of Appeals. In January of this year, the Court of Appeals upheld the state statute defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
In order for this amendment to be added to the state constitution, it will have to pass two separately elected General Assemblies and then be approved by the public as a voter referendum on the next general election ballot. Should SJR 7 pass the General Assembly this year, the first time the public could vote on it is November of 2008.
Eleven states passed constitutional amendments defining marriage in the last election. Twenty-six states will have considered constitutional amendments of this nature by 2006. Forty-four states have statutes that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
"The constituents of my district overwhelmingly support this amendment," said Thomas. "Now we need to get this on the ballot so voters can decide."
Information supplied by the Statehouse.