A second reading of House Joint Resolution 3 on the Senate floor today was without incident. If the Senate adopts the resolution on its third reading next Monday, it will reconcile with the amended version that came out of the House, and provide that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.
This matches current Indiana law, which also states that marriage is only legally recognized in heterosexual couples, but the proposed constitutional amendment would be a much more permanent statement forbidding gay marriage in Indiana.
The second reading of a proposed bill or resolution is the point when amendments can be made, and it was uncertain if republicans would offer an amendment trying to reinstate the second sentence of the original resolution that the house of representatives deleted earlier this year.
District 40 Senator Mark Stoops says he was confident that reinserting the second sentence would be defeated. However, there were other aspects to the reading that were surprising.
“The fact that they chose not to call the amendment at all was a real surprise,” Stoops says “It was a very strange session in that HJR-3 was called for the second reading and then there was silence. Everyone waited to hear if the amendment was going to be called and it wasn’t. That was the end.”
The 2014 legislative session has centered around HJR-3. Chambers of commerce, education institutions, and politicians statewide have joined civil rights advocates in voicing their dissent for the resolution.
“I’m sure what happened is that it became completely obvious to the Republican caucus that there were not enough votes for the second sentence,” Stoops says, “They didn’t want to get beaten up further on that bill. I think a lot of Republicans are pretty embarrassed that this bill is moving forward.”
Governor Mike Pence has supported the effort to amend the constitution in regards to marriage in Indiana, and called for it to be on the 2014 ballot. The soonest HJR3 would not be sent to referendum is 2016 – if the general assembly at the time adopts it exactly as it is stated now. Stoops speculates that Pence will try to avoid timing the ratification with his reelection.
“Governor Pence wanted this HJR-3 on the ballot in 2014 because he didn’t want it pushed until 2016 because he’s running for reelection that year,” Stoops says, “He knows that it’s a device of issue and that it will pull a lot of independents and democrats out to vote who might not normally have voted, which means he’d probably lose the reelection.”
Stoops predicted the third reading of HJR-3 will occur on Monday.