Timing essential in gay marriage battle
By TOM LoBIANCO The Associated Press December 2, 2012 9:30PM
Updated: December 9, 2012 10:37PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Timing is everything when it comes to the battle over whether to amend Indiana’s constitution to ban same-sex marriages. And key lawmakers are playing their cards close to the vest heading into the 2013 legislative session with a new governor and a list of big priorities.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma told reporters before the election that the measure could move swiftly through his chamber, but he did not include it in a package of ideas House Republicans said they would push in 2013.
Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, led the fight for the measure’s passage last year but has yet to say if or when he will introduce the measure, which needs a second vetting by the General Assembly before it can be placed on the 2014 ballot.
“I don’t know yet. Our leadership team, including (Rep.) Tim (Brown) and others, will get together and identify all the things we want to try to accomplish this session and next,” Turner said. “We’ll look at a lot of factors.”
Some supporters of the ban argue now is the time to push the measure through. But there are more variables than usual for lawmakers to consider heading into 2013.
They will have to write their next biennial budget, get acclimated to a new governor for the first time in eight years and measure the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue and make the whole argument moot.
“I’m assuming legislators are going to wait and see what the new governor’s agenda is, what the new budget looks like,” said Micah Clark, executive director of American Family Association of Indiana, which supports the ban. “They can pass things as quickly or slowly as they want.”
Whether they move on the ban next year or in 2014, Clark said he is confident it would make it on the ballot.
“I’m going to assume they’re going to defer to the governor’s agenda and maybe some economic issues and education issues. I fully expect that with 1,600 bills filed on everything under the sun, this will be one of the issues that will probably come up,” he said.
Rick Sutton, executive director of Indiana Equality Action, pushed the issue to the fore last week with a news event detailing which laws would be affected by the constitutional language. He said he’s planning for a ballot-box battle no matter when it happens.
“They’re going to have to decide when that happens. My guess is it’s sooner rather than later,” he said.
When lawmakers do debate the issue, it could be without a hand from Governor-elect Mike Pence. Sutton said he met with Pence’s transition team last week and was told the new administration would stay out of the fight.