The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

January 14, 2014

Committee delays vote on same-sex marriage ban amendment

Panel members want more time to consider divided testimony

INDIANAPOLIS —Carolyn Rhoton and the Rev. Donald McCord spent more than four hours sitting on hard benches outside the Indiana House chamber Monday, having started the morning with conflicting prayers.

Rhoton, a retired nurse from Lebanon, said she prayed for legislators to have the wisdom to push forward a ban on same-sex marriage, ultimately putting it to voters on the November ballot. “I believe it’s what God wants,” she said.

McCord, a retired pastor in Indianapolis, said his prayer was for those same lawmakers to have the wisdom to kill the resolution and stop an increasingly divisive fight in Indiana. “We ought not to be passing legislation on how other people ought to live their lives,” he said.

Neither of their prayers was answered.

Having heard hours of emotional testimony, the House Judiciary Committee unexpectedly failed to vote to send the amendment to the state constitution onto the full House. It was the first hearing on the contentious matter this session, and committee Chairman Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said members wanted more time to reflect on the testimony.

What they heard yesterday was divided opinion from legal experts, faith leaders, and average citizens about the amendment that would ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Jim Bopp, a prominent conservative lawyer from Terre Haute and former member of the Republican National Committee, spoke in favor and predicted the amendment would hold up in court.

Peter Rusthoven, a prominent conservative lawyer from Indianapolis and former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, opposed the amendment and a companion bill that seeks to explains the amendment’s intent. He predicted legal challenges would keep litigators busy for years to come. He suggested renaming the measure as the “Full Employment For Lawyers Act,” eliciting laughter from the crowds inside and outside the House chamber.

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