The Indiana state legislature came this close to passing a resolution that would have put a marriage equality ban on the ballot this year. But they blinked, and the resolution will not appear.
On Monday evening, the Indiana Republican-controlled House amended the language to House Joint Resolution 3 with a 52-43 vote, which will likely prevent the state from sending a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage to the ballot in 2014. The change struck the second sentence of the amendment, which would have banned recognition of any legal status for same-sex couples that is “identical or substantially similar” to marriage. Many felt this intruded too much on benefits for same-sex couples, which are vital to ensuring businesses and universities in the state can competitively hire.
If HJR 3 passes the legislature its new form, it cannot be sent to voters this year. Amendments to the Indiana State Constitution must pass in the same exact form in two consecutive legislative sessions before being sent to the ballot. HJR 3 was first passed in 2011, but it now becomes a new amendment, which — presuming the new form passes the House and then the Senate — must itself be approved in a second legislative session, meaning the earliest voters would see it on the ballot is probably 2016. By then, the U.S. Supreme Court may well have ruled on one of the other state cases, such as those that have already advanced in Nevada, Utah, and Oklahoma, and the amendment could be moot.
To quote Melissa McEwan who has been leading the charge against HJR 3: “CHEERS APPLAUSE BLUBS!!!”