Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

February 21, 2014

Legislators reveal their thoughts on HJR-3

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — The Indiana General Assembly recently moved a step closer to adding an amendment to the state’s Constitution regarding what is recognized as a valid marriage.

In 2011, lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages as well as civil unions and similar arrangements. This year, Indiana House of Representative members took out the sentence regarding civil unions and similar arrangements, but still approved House Joint Resolution 3, which said, “Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.”

Indiana senators did not put the civil union language back in, and also approved the proposed resolution.

District 42 Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) noted, “This time, the vote (in the Senate) was 32-17, and last time, it was 40 votes for and 10 against.”

She voted yes on the proposed amendment three years ago and again this time. “I was being consistent. It’s still the same issue .... (and) according to the survey I sent out .... with over 2,000 responses, 75 percent of the people wanted me to vote for it.”

The amendment “cannot be on the ballot in 2014 because to change the Constitution, an identical resolution has to pass in two separately elected general assemblies.” Since the wording was changed, the earliest it would go to voters would be November 2016,” Leising pointed out.

“I think that, ultimately, it’s the goal of the legislators to speak their peace as to whether the Constitution should be amended. They have the opportunity to vote yes or no. This is an important issue for many people and one which we should make sure all the people’s views are heard.”

District 43 Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg) also voted yes. “It’s pretty easy for me because I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman.

“I received a great deal of correspondence from those in my district and all over the state. I try to read all ... (of this) so I can get a handle on what they’re thinking. About 75 percent of people from my district believe marriage should be one man and one woman.”

In the Indiana House, the resolution passed 57-40.

District 67 Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) said, “In 2011, I voted for the marriage amendment .... I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and voted accordingly again this year.

“According to the results of my 2014 pre-session constituent survey, 88 percent of my constituents wanted this opportunity to vote on it. Ultimately, this decision should rest with the citizens of Indiana.”

District 55 Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville), who voted no, stressed, “I had difficulty with the language of the bill and did not think it was the right move for Indiana. It should not be easy to change our Constitution, especially when it has the potential to damage our state’s economy and reputation. Indiana is one of the best places in the Midwest, not only to do business but also to live, and I hope we continue to attract the best and brightest in order to continue fostering the growth and development of our great state.

“My vote was the accumulation of much careful thought and consideration. I value all the opinions and comments from my district and took them into account, along with the testimony of those who spoke to the House and information gathered over the interim.”

District 68 Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) voted yes because “I thought this was an issue that everyone in Indiana should have an opportunity to vote on.” He said most of the constituents he heard from agreed.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.