Full Senate to Take up Marriage Debate

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The Indiana Senate is set to debate today the proposed constitutional amendment that would further define marriage. The chamber could restore language concerning domestic partner benefits and civil unions. Bingham Greenbaum Doll lawyer Mike Limrick says anyone who says they know how the phrasing would be applied is "probably lying to you." He cites cases in Michigan and Wisconsin where courts interpreted similar language in different ways. Limrick says there has been "no clear guidance" on how the language would be applied by a court. He says the Michigan Supreme Court said the provision would prohibit public employers from providing health insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Limrick says a Wisconsin court of appeals ruled a legal status for same-sex domestic partnerships did not violate the language. That case is in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The Indiana House approved the proposal without the second sentence. If that version of the resolution passes, it would need to pass again in the next legislative session in order to go to a public vote. If the language is restored and passes the House, it would go to voters in November.

HJR-3 supporters say the amendment would make it harder to overturn the ban and believe voters should have the opportunity to decide the issue. Opponents argue the resolution would weigh down efforts to attract jobs and top talent.

Sources: Bingham Greenbaum Doll LLP, Inside INdiana Business