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State GOP to take up gay-union amendment

– The fight over a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Indiana will rear up this session, Republican legislative leaders said Thursday.

Some had hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to intervene in two same-sex marriage cases might put Indiana’s effort on hold.

But GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma seemed to quash that Thursday, saying someone will introduce the measure and it will be addressed like any other bill.

“There have been some who have suggested that we should wait to see what happens there before taking action. I’m not certain that’s advisable at this point, but it’s certainly under consideration,” he said.

“There’s nothing wrong with talking about these issues that are important to Hoosiers in one direction or another. Will it be a priority? No. Will it be addressed? Just like any other idea of the 1,500 ideas.”

Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, Senate majority caucus chairman, also acknowledged the issue will come up and his caucus will discuss it like many others.

Indiana state law already limits marriage to between one man and one woman.

But supporters want the public policy inserted into the state constitution so judges can’t later overturn it.

State courts have already upheld the law once.

The proposed amendment specifically says, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

The second sentence would ban future legislators from enacting civil unions in the future, and might affect things like same-sex health benefits.

The General Assembly must approve the measure again in 2013 or 2014 before Hoosiers would get the final say on the matter with a statewide vote in the fall of 2014. Not acting this year doesn’t slow the process.

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson said no matter how much Republicans want to keep the discussion reasonable and calm there is a perception that this is an attack.

“And quite frankly it is. We’re placing discrimination into the constitution,” he said.

He noted a new poll released Thursday by The Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University showed only 38 percent of Hoosiers support the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage while 54 percent oppose.

More than a majority of Hoosiers also support civil unions that would give gay couples the same rights and benefits as married couples.

“This is an opportunity for us to step into the 21st century,” Lanane said. “The trend is clear on this issue. It is crystal clear. Talk to your kids, talk to your grandkids if you want to about this. They don’t get it.”

Bosma said he hasn’t seen the new poll but “Hoosiers are roughly divided on this issue and from my perspective that doesn’t change any approach. Unlike some I discourage my team from making decisions by polling.”

Gov.-elect Mike Pence declined to get involved in the topic Thursday, saying it is up to the legislature to set its agenda.

Instead, he is focusing on jobs and setting up a new administration.

In the past he has supported marriage between one man and one woman.

Gov. Mitch Daniels also is staying out of the fray, refusing in a meeting with a few reporters Thursday to comment on the appropriateness of a constitutional ban.

He did say he supports children growing up in intact homes, pointing to evidence that it lowers poverty. When asked if intact families extend to same-sex couples, he said yes.

“Well, it sure beats single parenthood. I’m personally familiar with some folks who I think are doing a very good job of parenting in a same-sex environment.

“I’m not saying it’s preferable. I don’t think the data tells us that,” he said.

He also said that single parents do heroic things every day and he has tried to support them.

“But the children would be better off if somehow two loving adults are in the house, very often then two incomes, things that just build a better base under a young life,” Daniels said.

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