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June 28, 2013

Recent rulings leave marriage-ban opponent undeterred

Statehouse GOP moving forward with amendment.

INDIANAPOLIS — Supporters of same-sex marriage may be celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings Wednesday as a victory for marriage equality, but key Republican leaders in the Indiana Statehouse see it much differently.

Instead of halting the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, top GOP legislative leaders say the court has cleared the way for the Legislature to move forward on putting the state’s current law prohibiting same-sex marriage into the state constitution.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said he’s “confident” the state’s proposed marriage-ban constitutional amendment will be approved by the Indiana General Assembly next year and sent on to voters for their approval, despite potential legal challenges and independent polling that shows most Hoosiers no longer support it.

“I am certainly pleased the Supreme Court has confirmed each state’s right to address the legal issue of what constitutes one of the most important institutions in our society,” Bosma said in a statement released Wednesday, after the court’s rulings on two major marriage-equality cases.

Indiana Senate President David Long echoed Bosma, saying while the court struck down key provisions in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, it left intact, with a second ruling on a California case, the right of states to determine how to define marriage.

Long said: “I fully anticipate that both the [Indiana] Senate and House will be voting on a marriage amendment next session.”

In a pair of 5-4 decisions, the nation’s high court struck down DOMA, which had denied federal benefits to gay couples married under state law. It let stand a district-court ruling that Proposition 8, a 2008 voter initiative that ended same-sex marriages in California, is unconstitutional.

While some legal scholars see the decisions as precedent for challenging state same-sex marriage bans, Deborah Widiss, an associate professor of law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said the impact “is just not clear yet.”

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