Bosma moves marriage ban to friendlier committee

INDIANAPOLIS - Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma on Tuesday sent a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage to a new committee amid concerns that it lacked support on another panel.

Bosma announced that the proposed ban and a companion bill will be considered by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee. The move came after the measure stalled in the House Judiciary Committee and Bosma threatened to substitute members of that panel to advance the measure.

"It was made at the request of the overwhelming majority of the House Republican Caucus and the request of the committee chairman in judiciary. He didn't feel the bill would come to the floor, he knew that was the goal of an overwhelming number of the House members and thought it was best if it went to elections," Bosma said. He added that it's "common procedure" to move bills between committees.

The House elections committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed ban and companion measure Wednesday afternoon and then vote.

Bosma had promised publicly to let the ban run a normal course in the Legislature but has recently taken a more forceful role in advancing it amid concerns it would die in committee.

The House elections panel includes more conservative lawmakers than the judiciary panel, including at least one Democrat who has said he would support a ban.

The Judiciary Committee held an hours-long hearing on the measure last week but delayed a vote. It had been expected to vote on the measure this week, but Bosma conceded last week that any decision to advance the proposed ban to the full House would be a narrow one.

The delayed vote is another indicator of how much the ground has shifted on the issue since 2011, when the amendment passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support. The measure must pass the Legislature again this year in order to appear on the November ballot.

Opponents of the measure, including top businesses and universities, have said it's unnecessary because state law already bans same-sex marriage. They contend amending that ban into the constitution would paint Indiana as an unfriendly place and deter businesses and top workers from locating in the state.

The high-profile battle has caused some lawmakers to say they will change their votes and oppose the ban.

"I think he's just insulted the legislature and members of my committee, saying having heard the bill and having understood the bill we're not going to be allowed to vote. When I try juries, I never get the chance to say can you give me a different jury 'cause this one's not working out,’" Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, said.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence asked lawmakers to vote on the issue this year during his State of the State address last week.

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