(STATEHOUSE) Feb 20, 2008 - In a bipartisan effort, Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives called on Speaker B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) and Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) to give Senate Joint Resolution 7, the Defense of Marriage Amendment, a hearing before the full House.
A strong majority of representatives signed a petition calling on Speaker Bauer and Rep. Pelath, chairman of the House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee, to allow SJR 7 the opportunity to be heard and voted on by the Indiana General Assembly. Rep. Pelath has said he would not hear the resolution in committee.
Rep. Bruce Borders pointed out Speaker Bauer's promise to allow the resolution to be voted on by the full House.
On Oct. 26, 2006, Rep. Bauer stated, "If I am elected speaker of the Indiana House after the Nov. 7 general election, I will allow committee meetings, floor debate and a final vote in that chamber on a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriages in Indiana."
In response to Rep. Bauer's broken promise, Rep. Borders stated:
"I'm just asking the speaker to keep his word. At the time he made the promise, an election was just a few days away, and it's as plain as day that he made his promise in hopes of gaining a majority for his party so he could regain the position of speaker of the House.
"Once the election was over, though, he simply assigned the bill to the Rules Committee, which was stacked with members of his own party who were afraid to stand up to him and make him keep his word. As a result, the bill never made it out of the Rules Committee so we could vote on the issue before the full House. Obviously, his position as speaker of the House means more to him than his promise to Hoosiers.
"We address a ton of different issues here. Some deal with the economy, others with education, others with families and social issues, and so forth. Once in a while, someone will jump me and say, 'Why don't you get off that marriage issue with all the important things there are to worry about?'
"My response to that is that many issues are important, but if the makeup of the family isn't an important issue, then what has become of us as a society? As goes the family, so goes the nation. Who would ever have dreamed that we would one day reach a point where we questioned whether marriage should be between one man and one woman? I will continue to fight this fight, and I will not back down."
In order for this amendment to be added to the state Constitution, it would have to pass two separately elected General Assemblies and then be approved by the public as a statewide voter referendum on the next general election ballot. Ultimately, Hoosiers would have the final say in strengthening the definition of marriage in Indiana.
Two years ago, 76 state representatives voted for the amendment - overwhelming bipartisan support. November 2008 would be the first time Hoosiers could vote on the amendment if SJR 7 passed this session.
Earlier this session, the Senate passed SJR 7 by a 39-9 vote.
If SJR 7 is not granted a hearing on the House floor, the long process will have to start over.
To date, 27 states have passed a constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage, in addition to laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman.
In August of 2007, an Iowa judge overturned such a marriage defining state law, saying it violated equal protection and due process provisions. This is prompting more states to seek constitutional protection for their definitions of marriage.
Rep. Borders encourages constituents to contact him with questions or concerns through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling the Statehouse at 1-800-382-9841 or by writing him at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.