INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House of Representatives approved a proposal Tuesday that would place the state’s gay marriage ban in the state constitution, while leaving the door open to eventual approval of civil unions.
The proposed ban, which cleared the chamber on a 57-40 vote, now heads to the Indiana Senate, where members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to take up the issue.
Legislators that represent Hancock County were split on the issue, and what happens to the ban next in the Senate is up in the air.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, voted in favor of the measure Tuesday alongside 56 other Republicans including Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield. But Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, was among the 11 Republicans and all 29 Democrats who voted against the measure.
The vote followed weeks of uncertainty for a measure that swept through the General Assembly with ease just three years ago.
Bosma, who represents the northwestern corner of Hancock County, worked hard to shepherd the ban through the start of the session. But he washed his hands of the measure Monday night, shortly after members of his own caucus joined with House Democrats to change it.
House lawmakers removed a sentence in the proposed ban that would have banned civil unions and potentially barred employers from providing benefits to same-sex employees. Republicans who joined with House Democrats to alter the measure expressed concerns that the ban went too far by barring future approval of civil unions.
However, that alteration potentially pushes back the earliest the measure could go before voters to November 2016. Indiana’s constitutional amendment process requires the same measure be approved in two consecutive two-year sessions of the General Assembly, then be placed on the ballot for consideration by voters.