The Herald Bulletin

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February 12, 2014

Ind. gay marriage ban backers seek youth support

INDIANAPOLIS — A new group of young people who support banning gay marriage in Indiana announced a campaign Tuesday to pressure lawmakers to restore language to the proposed constitutional amendment that would enable it to get to voters in November.

Members of the group gathered at the Statehouse for a news conference, saying they want to rebut the notion being pushed by ban opponents, including Freedom Indiana, that younger generations are largely supportive of gay marriage.

"The media claims we don't exist, Freedom Indiana claims there are none of us left. But as young Hoosiers we are here today. We stand to send a clear message that we uphold the truth of marriage," group spokesman Shane Weist, a former Lafayette City Council candidate, said while surrounded by four to five dozen other members.

The original proposed amendment also included a ban on civil unions, but that language was recently removed by House members amid concerns that it went too far. Supporters are now lobbying hard for the Senate to restore the language because a proposed amendment must twice be approved by the Legislature, in consecutive legislative sessions and without changes, in order to make the ballot.

The measure sailed through the House and Senate during the 2011-2012 session, unaltered and with bipartisan support. But the apparent turnabout during the current 2013-2014 session has been helped by a strong, coordinated effort led by Freedom Indiana, an umbrella group of those opposing a gay-marriage ban.

Supporters of the ban are looking to reclaim some momentum this week. The proposed ban could come up for debate in the Senate as soon as Thursday, which will determine whether the "second sentence" ban on civil unions is restored and the measure placed on track for a November referendum. That language could also potentially bar employers from providing benefits to same-sex couples.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence said again Tuesday that he would stay out of the debate while lawmakers are in session.

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