Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

GOP Feeling Heat on Gay Marriage Issue ; Conservative Base, Business on Opposite Sides

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

GOP Feeling Heat on Gay Marriage Issue ; Conservative Base, Business on Opposite Sides

Article excerpt

With the constitutional marriage amendment looming just over the horizon, the Indiana Republican Party is hardly one happy family living in a big tent. Multiple sources are telling me that a distinct majority of the Indiana Republican Central Committee opposes HJR-6, the resolution that would place the marriage constitutional question on the November 2014 ballot.

That amendment would make marriage between "one man and one woman." But the second sentence - "Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized" - essentially would make civil unions impossible.

There's this pesky 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

In addition, there is a roiling debate in the majority House and Senate caucuses, sources tell me.

While there is not a "tipping point" near where the issue could be sidelined, there is an ongoing, often emotional, internal debate over whether the GOP would suffer at the ballot box if the referendum moves forward.

Sources say that both House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long are under relentless pressure from advocates of the referendum and those opposing.

Gov. Mike Pence told me on Wednesday that he wants the General Assembly to act. "You know where I stand," Pence said when asked whether it is a priority.

"I think it's important that we let Hoosiers decide. I have every confidence that the people of Indiana can take up this issue, hear all sides, respect all viewpoints. At the end of the day I think we should let Hoosiers decide and I'll continue to support efforts of General Assembly to send this question to the people of Indiana.

The Ball State/WISHTV Poll conducted by Princeton Research showed opposition to the amendment increased from 54 percent in 2012 to 58 percent this past month, while support held steady at 38%. Opposition was at 77% among Democrats and 40% among Republicans.

In the April 23 Howey Politics Poll, 50% favored the amendment and 46% opposed. This compared to an October 2012 Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll that showed 48% favored the amendment and 45% opposed.

Last June, Bosma told me, "It will take 95 percent of the energy and 50 percent of the coverage," adding, "If I had my druthers, Part B would not be there. …

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