After much suspense since Republican legislators in 2011 passed a bill to put a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage on the Indiana ballot, marriage equality supporters could breathe a sigh of relief today. The legislature, still firmly Republican and opposed to marriage equality, blocked its own momentum on a technicality which will delay the effort by at least another two years — possibly giving more time to stop it for good.
Indiana requires legislators to pass exact same text in two different legislative assemblies before a constitutional amendment can go on the ballot. 2011’s measure, much like the North Carolina Amendment passed in May 2012, banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. This was extreme at the time but seems to have been a bridge too far for legislators just a few years later. Earlier, the House passed a different version of the text (dropping the civil unions prohibition), and today the Senate approved that new text without amending it back. There did not appear to be significant objection within the legislative membership to keeping out the old version, even if it meant a delay.
Therefore, it won’t appear on the 2014 ballot and would need to be passed again, after the 2014 elections (during the 2015 or 2016 sessions), without changing the text further, for it to go on the ballot in 2016.
I don’t know whether this was due to a sincere change of heart since 2011 (seems like the House changed its mind) or some brilliant person figuring out how to use a procedural wrench to stop the works. But either way, this is great news. Let’s hope more minds in the legislature have changed by the next attempt.