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Region Locals React to Indiana House Vote on HJR-3

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January 27, 2014 — A rare roar of cheers erupted in the Indiana House chambers after a vote altered the wording on a bill placing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The vote of 52 — 43 amended the bill to remove the second sentence that would have banned civil unions and similar arrangements. That clause bans a legal status “substantially similar” to marriage and is considered a threat to domestic partnership benefits by opposes.

Now, both local officials and residents are voicing their opinions about the words being axed.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath has spoken out against both the sentence and the sentiment.

“We need to be setting aside those issues like the proposed constitutional amendment regarding marriage that simple just divide people and sap us of our energies,” he says. “We are lagging behind the rest of the nation in the per capita income and the earning power of our citizens. We do not have job opportunities that allow people to take care of their families. Those are the things we need to be addressing.”

With today’s changes, HJR-3 is now eligible for passage by the House. If approved, the legislation would move to the Senate.

Each year, researchers from Ball State University, deliver the results of a public poll called the Hoosier State Survey to every Indiana legislator ahead of the session.

The latest Hoosier State Survey found the majority of residents are opposed to a constitutional ban on marriage. Some Hoosiers have brought that concern to the statehouse in the form of letters.

Members from Freedom Indiana, a coalition opposing the amendment, recently met in Indianapolis to hand deliver 6,000 letters to legislators, informing them that some constituents are against HJR-3.

Freedom Indiana’s campaign manager, Megan Robertson, is from Portage, Ind., and says she has noticed support from the region.

“We definitely have a presence in Northwest Indiana and have gotten some great support,” Robertson says. “For me, being from Portage, you’ve got the Valparaiso mayor John Costas, you’ve got mayor McDermott over in Hammond, and you’ve got the Porter County commissioners coming out against. All these people are coming together, whether they’re Republican or Democrats and it’s been really exciting to have that kind of support from up at home.”

If the amendment bill is approved by the full House and the Senate, the change restarts the entire approval process.

By: Hilary Powell

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