Both publicly and privately, GOP lawmakers are expressing doubts about a measure that saw wide support in past sessions and they cite changing public opinion on whether the state’s current ban on same-sex marriage should be locked into the state’s constitution.
Republican State Rep. Jud McMillin, a Brookville lawyer who sits on the House committee expected to hear the measure, thinks it needs to be put on hold this session. He cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up the issue of whether state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage are legal and wants the Indiana legislature to wait on the court’s ruling.
“I just think it would be irresponsible for us to be putting something in the public hands when we know the Supreme Court may come down and rule on something that may alter our ability to do that,” McMillin said.
Republican State Rep. Ron Bacon of Boonville, who voted for the constitutional ban two years ago said he wouldn’t vote for it again this time.
Bacon’s reasons are two-fold: He agrees with McMillin that the legislature needs to wait for the court ruling, but he also objects to the language in the measure that would create a constitutional ban on civil unions as well as same-sex marriages.
“That’s a step too far,” Bacon said.
Their concerns are significant, given that Republicans control the Indiana legislature and that the amendment faced almost no GOP opposition in the past.
On the Senate side, both state Sen. Pete Miller of Avon and his fellow Republican state Sen. Luke Kenley of Noblesville have gone public with their opposition.
Neither are supporters of legalizing same-sex marriage, but both say a sweeping constitutional ban isn’t needed.
“It’s already illegal,” Miller said. “What’s to be gained other than ostracizing a whole section the population?”
Miller echoed the concerns expressed by Republican state Rep. Ed Clair of New Albany. Both Miller and Clere cite the opposition coming from some of Indiana’s biggest employers, such as Columbus, Ind.-based engine maker Cummins, Inc., that say such a ban would hurt their efforts to recruit top talent.
“If we’re trying to attract the best and brightest people to work in Indiana, this doesn’t help,”Miller said. “It’s not just putting out a sign to gays and lesbians saying, ‘You’re not welcome.’ It sends a signal to a lot of talented young people that we’re not a welcoming place.”