House Republicans undecided or facing potential challenges in the 2014 election cycle who could be impacted by HJR-3 include (from top) State Reps. Wendy McNamara, Randy Truitt, Holli Sullivan, Cindy Kirchhofer, Mike Speedy, Dan Leonard and Jerry Torr.
House Republicans undecided or facing potential challenges in the 2014 election cycle who could be impacted by HJR-3 include (from top) State Reps. Wendy McNamara, Randy Truitt, Holli Sullivan, Cindy Kirchhofer, Mike Speedy, Dan Leonard and Jerry Torr.
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

NASHVILLE, Ind. - The second sentence of the constitutional marriage amendment has been endorsed by House Speaker Brian Bosma, while State Rep. Wendy McNamara is saying she won't vote for the resolution if it remains, and State Rep. Randy Truitt will vote no.

"If an amendment were to be brought up to remove the second sentence I will fully support this resolution," said McNamara, R-Mount Vernon, in a prepared statement. "If the second sentence remains, I will not support the resolution."

State Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette, told the Lafayette Journal & Courier's Dave Bangert that he will also vote no. “I know I’m going to get labeled, in some way, pro-gay marriage or whatever,” Truitt said Thursday. “I’ve already said I’m a believer in traditional marriage. But to me this isn’t about a gay marriage situation. To me, this is about a red hot poker, which is the second sentence (of HJR-3) being put into the sacred document of our state. And I don’t think that is appropriate.”

McNamara was one of three Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee who balked at voting HJR-3 and the companion HB1153 out of that committee, forcing Bosma to move the legislation to the House Elections and Apportionment Committee last Tuesday. About 30 hours later, that committee voted by a 9 to 3 party line vote to move it for full House consideration.

For Bosma, the embrace of the second sentence which essentially precludes future legislatures from instituting civil union or domestic partnerships,  is an evolution from where he stood last summer. Asked about Part B, which would prevent domestic union rights for gay couples and potentially collide with the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constitution that says a U.S. citizen cannot be deprived of “equal protection of the laws,” Bosma told Howey Politics Indiana last July, “I think if Part B of the resolution wasn’t there, there would be more certainty with this regard. It is the part that addresses the civil union language. If I had my druthers, Part B would not be there. I think the first part is very clear. Part B raises a question. But virtually every statute raises some question.”

On Thursday, Bosma told Indiana Public Media's Brandon Smith that he is now "personally opposed" to removing the second sentence. “I think the companion bill, House Bill 1153, very clearly answers the questions raised by the second sentence so I think the bill is good as it sits – and the resolution, too,” Bosma said (see Brian Howey's Column "Bosma and the second sentence" below).

But Bosma also said that he would not prevent amendments changing or removing the second sentence from being heard when the full House takes up the two pieces of legislation some time after 1:30 p.m. next Monday. Bosma told the Evansville Courier & Press, “I think it is abundantly clear I haven’t asked one person to do one thing on this bill other than vote their conscience.” He told the NWI Times, "We don't cut people off around here. We'll stay as long as the members want to talk about it."

Altering or removing language the amendment in any way would essentially restart the process which requires two separate General Assemblies to pass in order to appear before voters. If it passes the House and Senate intact, it will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. Any changes could push it to 2016, when Gov. Mike Pence could seek reelection.

There is a potential pathway for HJR-3 to be defeated in the House.

Most of the 31 House Democrats are expected to oppose the amendment, and Republican State Reps. Ed Clere and Sean Eberhart have said they will oppose. If State Reps. Dan Leonard of Huntington and Jerry Torr or Carmel - who balked at passing the legislation out of Judiciary - oppose, it would put the opposition at 33. The two newest Republicans - State Reps. Casey Cox of Fort Wayne and Holli Sullivan of Evansville - both voted with the majority on the Elections Committee. Cox and State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse who has also questioned the second sentence, face primary challengers who fully back the amendment. Kubacki will be challenged by Curt Nisly, the husband of Elkhart County Republican Chairwoman Mary Nisly, and Ken Knoblauch, who had opposed Cox during the recent caucus to replace the late State Rep. Phyllis Pond, has filed for the primary.

Several other Republicans - such as Truitt, Hal Slager of Schererville, Cindy Kirchhofer and Mike Speedy of Indianapolis, and Sullivan of Evansville - represent college towns and more moderate areas and would be potentially vulnerable for reelection in November. Democrat Vanderburgh County Commissioner Steve Melcher of Evansville filed to challenge Sullivan, who replaced current State Auditor Suzanne Crouch earlier this month, on Thursday.

Many House Republicans are telling Statehouse reporters and HPI privately that they want the issue to go away. A number of those who voted for the resolution in 2011 are having second thoughts about the second sentence, but fear changing their votes which might prompt a primary challenge in May or appearing to flip before voters. Many will opt for the default position, which is to let the people vote. The filing deadline for the May primary is noon Feb. 7.

Bosma defended his decision to move the legislation from Judiciary to Elections, telling the NWI Times' Dan Carden, "My goal has, from the start, been to have this come to the floor because, as I've said, I don't think one person should be making this decision on behalf of all 100 members. That's what we were down to in the Judiciary Committee — one person making the decision and taking away the opportunity for every member here to cast their vote, whether it's yes or no."

The Bosma and McNamara comments came as Gov. Mike Pence stepped forward and gave a full endorsement of the legislation during a keynote address before 400 people at an Indiana Family Institute luncheon in Indianapolis on Thursday. Pence reiterated his support for the amendment that says marriage should be between one man and one woman. He did not mention the second sentence. He also made it clear he wants it on the ballot this year and not 2016.

But he did address other family styles beyond a household with a mother and a father. “First and foremost, before I give you the hard facts, let me say that as we talk about the importance of intact, two-parent families, let me be clear: Nothing in my remarks should ever be seen as in any way failing to honor the most courageous parents in Indiana who are our single parents,” said Pence, citing his sister with three children.

HJR3 and HB1153 has roiled the Republican-led General Assembly, sucking away oxygen from an array of other issues, with bill crossover date looming on Feb. 3. The House Judiciary Committee hasn't met since the dramatic Jan. 13 hearing on HJR-3 and HB1153 and it will be two weeks before it reconvenes next Monday to deal with issues involving domestic violence and health care immunity issues.

Developing . . .