Indiana House Approves Gay Marriage Ban

The state House approved on Tuesday a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Indiana, closing the issue until it is taken up again by next year’s legislature.

The House voted 76 to 23 in favor of the measure, with support from all 52 Republicans and 24 Democrats. The Senate approved the bill last month.

The bill reads: “Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of a man and a woman. This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

Although Indiana already has a law banning same-sex marriage, supporters of the bill assert that a constitutional amendment is necessary to protect traditional marriage if the law is challenged in court.

Earlier this month, more than a thousand people rallied at the State House while the House began debate over the bill. Supporters and opponents crowded the building and outside, engaging in emotionally-charged shouting matches and outbursts during the rallies.

On Tuesday, the atmosphere was less intense. Legislators debated on the consequences of the bill for society, with opponents arguing that the bill introduces grounds for discrimination, while supporters defended the need to protect marriage and families.

Although the amendment has passed both the Senate and House, it must still be approved by next year’s newly elected legislature before it can be placed on the ballot for a public vote in 2008.