A step forward in Indiana: House amends HJR-3 to remove second sentence

On January 27, the Indiana House of Representatives approved an amendment to the proposed anti-freedom constitutional amendment HJR-3, bringing Hoosiers closer than ever to defeating the bill. Today's vote stripped the amendment of the second sentence, which sought to ban all protections for same-sex couples and their families. With a vote count of 52 in favor and 43 against, the amendment passed through the house floor.

Today’s vote bolsters the case supporters like you have helped us make all along: HJR-3 is a flawed bill and it has dangerous consequences for thousands of Hoosier families. The second sentence of HJR-3 would have far-reaching ramifications for gay and lesbian Hoosiers who just want to protect their families - prohibiting civil union and domestic partnership for same-sex couples and endangering health benefits, hospital visitation, human rights ordinances, and other legal protections currently available to same-sex couples in Indiana. 

Because HJR-3 was amended, even if the Senate approves this version of the bill, HJR-3 would still have to pass in the 2016 legislative session before reaching the ballot.

Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson released a statement on the news: 

Today's vote to remove some of the extremist language in the proposed constitutional ban on marriage in Indiana is a welcome step back from the brink. This offers the possibility that Indiana’s families will not be subjected to a harsh campaign and offensive ballot-measure that would add cruel and unconstitutional language to Indiana’s state constitution. The support that we saw today from Indiana legislators—including Republicans—and the success in achieving this vote reflected the growing momentum for the freedom to marry the person you love, and a repudiation of the effort to strip gay Hoosiers and their families of all legal protection and respect.

While the amended bill represents an improvement on what the Speaker tried to railroad through, even by changing committees and twisting arms, it still is a deeply flawed and unconstitutional measure that merits defeat. So there is much more to do. Freedom to Marry will continue working alongside Freedom Indiana and our coalition partners through the end of this legislative session to try to persuade lawmakers to listen to the voices of families, business leaders, and others who want to see Indiana on the right side of history.

Megan Robertson, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, released a statement today about the news. She said:

Stripping the deeply flawed second sentence makes a bad amendment better, but we believe this amendment, in any form, has no place in our state’s founding document.

Still, we are incredibly grateful to lawmakers for removing this dangerous language from the amendment and standing up for gay and lesbian Hoosiers and their families. Today is a victory for the thousands of Hoosiers across our state who’ve shared their stories at the Statehouse and made it clear that HJR-3 does not reflect our shared values.

We will continue to work hard to make sure the amendment stays off the November ballot. That’s not the place to have this conversation, and it never will be.

HJR-3 will now face consideration by the Indiana Senate. 

For months, Freedom Indiana, a coalition of community organizations, businesses, and people of faith across the state, has been working to defeat the anti-liberty amendment. They stand with the majority of residents in Indiana who already agree that HJR-3 will do nothing but harm families in Indiana: A December 2012 poll by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and WISH-TV found that 54 percent of respondents opposed changing the state constitution to permanently ban same-sex couples from the protections of marriage. Just 38 percent said they supported the amendment.

Learn more about the freedom to marry in Indiana HERE, and show your support for Freedom Indiana HERE.