This is rich. Think Progress reported this evening that due to language changes within the bill introduced by the Republican controlled Indiana House, the likelihood of the amendment passing has grown very slim.

On Monday evening, the Indiana Republican-controlled House amended the language to House Joint Resolution 3 with a 52-43 vote, which will likely preven 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.

This is an interesting turn of events. Observers on both sides of the debate went into today uncertain what would happen. I don't think many people expected this. I can just see the quandary on House Republican faces as they soberly considered the implications of what they were attempting to do. Do they pander to their bigoted base who would love nothing more than to see Putin-style policies imposed in their State, or do they dance on the strings of their fiscally conservative base who couldn't care less about gay people getting married so long as their bottom line isn't affected? What is an Indiana lawmaker to do?

Although this doesn't completely quash the possibility of the bill's passage, reading the reactionary tea leaves in the aftermath reinforces my gut instinct that it has been delt a mortal blow. Responding to this new development, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage released the following statement.

The House today failed in its obligations to the people of Indiana and insulted voters’ intelligence by tinkering with the language of HJR3. Those who voted for this change implied that the voters cannot be trusted to discern and decide the matter for themselves. The Senate should restore the removed statement when given the opportunity, and undo this offense to the people of Indiana.
Anything that gets Brian this frothy has to be good.

Originally posted to Steven Payne on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:23 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality and Indianapolis Kossacks.

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