Senate committee picks up HJR-3 Monday

INDIANAPOLIS - The latest chapter in the debate over HJR-3 is scheduled to unfold at the Indiana Statehouse on Monday.

That's when the Senate will begin its discussions on the amended proposal. The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to hear testimony from people on both sides of the issue.

Meanwhile, last-minute efforts were underway to lobby lawmakers ahead of the public hearing.

Freedom Indiana, the bipartisan coalition opposing the marriage amendment, organized phone banks across the state over the weekend.

"We want lawmakers to vote down the amendment," said Jennifer Wagner, spokesperson for Freedom Indiana. "But, if not, keep it in its current format, pass it through the Senate, return it to the House, and let's continue talking about other issues this session."

Supporters of HJR-3 – Advance America and the Indiana Family Institute – are also urging their base to get on the phone.

"We were disappointed that the House modified this amendment," said IFI President Curt Smith. "Both sentences work together to create a strong policy statement on marriage. The first sentence is a mere definition, the second sentence – with more complicated language, admittedly – is the defense of marriage part."

In its current form HJR-3 is a one-line proposed addition to the state constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The House approved the modified amendment late last month after removing the second sentence that would have barred civil unions and other arrangements "substantially similar" to marriage.

The 12-member Senate Rules Committee is expected to vote after hearing public testimony Monday. If the committee approves the modified proposal it will head to the full Senate for consideration.

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