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GOP revisits gay marriage amendment

– Republican legislative leaders said a decision is coming next week on whether the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage should move forward this session.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he believes it should wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in this summer on the matter.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the decision is simply whether to vote on it this year, or in 2014. He has been waiting for an analysis on how the U.S. Supreme Court decision might affect Indiana’s efforts.

“We’ll have an answer by next week. Our caucus has yet to sit down as a full group and talk about it. We have other critical issues to address,” Long said. “There are a lot of questions about what could come out of the Supreme Court.”

Indiana law already limits marriage to between one man and one woman. But supporters want the law inserted into the constitution so judges can’t later overturn it. State courts have already upheld the law once.

The proposed amendment reads, “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 a host of other laws.

The General Assembly must approve the measure again this year or in 2014 before Hoosiers would get the final say on the matter with a statewide vote in the fall of 2014. Not moving this year would not slow down or alter the process.

The leaders also addressed a number of other issues Thursday:

•Bosma said he will meet Monday with Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz regarding several bills filed in the House to reduce her power as head of the Indiana Department of Education.

He said there is concern or paranoia that she will use the office somehow to unwind recent education reforms.

“I want to hear from her rather than enact legislation that presumes the worst,” Bosma said.

•Long said he is considering moving a bill out of the Rules Committee that would allow students to carry guns on college campuses.

That committee is usually the death knell for legislation, but he said his caucus will discuss Sen. Jim Banks’ gun bill soon and decide whether it should have a hearing.

“I personally have concerns about college students being allowed to carry guns on campus,” he said. “They’re young. There’s a lot of volatility at that time in life.”

Banks, R-Columbia City, said he is open to any ideas about the legislation that will preserve Hoosier college students’ right to carry guns for security.

•Another controversial topic – Sunday alcohol sales – will receive a hearing Wednesday in the Indiana House.

Bosma said it has been a long time since the House has taken up the issue and it deserves a public dialogue. The Senate had hearings several years back, but no vote was taken.

“I think it’s time for the discussion,” he said. “I have no idea how the bill will fail.”

Bosma quickly corrected his statement, saying he meant “fare” and that he didn’t make a Freudian slip.

nkelly@jg.net

Also

Astronaut to speak from space station
The Indiana Senate will have a special visitor Thursday – all the way from outer space.
NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, who is currently aboard the international space station, will beam into the chamber at 1:50 p.m.
He is the brother of former Sen. David Ford, R-Hartford City, who died in 2008 after a battle with cancer. He always spoke proudly of his astronaut sibling.
Both were born and grew up in northern Indiana.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he has worked with NASA on the event, including a few members of the chamber being allowed to ask some questions.
Kevin Ford, the flight engineer, is expected to return to Earth in March, according to the NASA website. He has been at the space station since late October.
– Niki Kelly, The Journal Gazette

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