The Indiana Senate approved the proposed ban by a vote of 32-17,
following approval in the House of Representatives last month. But
under state law, both chambers must approve the measure again, with
the same language, in the next legislative session in 2015 or 2016
in order for the proposal to go before voters in 2016.
Indiana bans gay marriage by statute and supporters have said a
constitutional amendment would provide additional protection from
A version of the amendment had passed the Republican-dominated
Indiana legislature in 2011, but the Indiana House in January
softened it by removing language that would have banned gay civil
unions. The Senate upheld the change made by the House on Thursday.
The change in the language sets back the clock on the legislation,
which supporters had hoped to get before voters this year.
Supporters had argued the ban on civil unions was needed to protect
traditional marriage. However, opponents argued the language was
ambiguous, would hurt attracting new talent to the state and could
prohibit local governments from offering domestic partnerships
The removal of the ban on civil unions was seen as a victory by
supporters of gay rights.
A decade ago, no states allowed same-sex couples to marry. Since
then, same-sex marriage has been made legal in 17 states plus the
District of Columbia.
[to top of second column]
Other states ban gay marriage by state statute, constitutional
amendment, or both.
The action in Indiana follows two high-profile rulings on gay
marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The court paved the
way for gay marriage to resume in California and struck down the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) federal law that denied federal
benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Federal judges have cited the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling in finding
same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional in Utah, Virginia and
Oklahoma. The Utah and Oklahoma decisions are under appeal, and the
Virginia ruling has been stayed pending an appeal.
(Reporting by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz; editing by Mary Wisniewski and
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.