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Column: Leave controversial marriage amendment at altar

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If you are a supporter of HJR-3, otherwise known as the marriage amendment, the latest poll by Indiana House and Senate Republicans cannot make you feel good, especially if you break it down and really dig into it.

Just to get everyone back up to speed, the language in the amendment says the following:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

Earlier this month the House and Senate Republican campaign committees commissioned a poll to find out where voters were on the amendment.

And while looking at the results on the surface, an HJR-3 supporter might think it’s good news:

  • 53 percent of those surveyed support the amendment.
  • 55 percent favor amending the state Constitution to say marriage should be between one man and one woman.
  • 53 percent oppose allowing gay couples to marry.

Good news right? Well this is why you read everything!

When told HJR-3 could ban civil unions and prohibit domestic partner benefits, opposition rises to 54 percent.

  • 55 percent says gays and lesbians should either be allowed to marry, have civil unions or domestic partner benefits. Only 38 percent think there should be no legal recognition of their relationships.
  • 50 percent of voters say the amendment is not a priority.
  • 83 percent of voters say job creation is the most important issue in the state; only 35 percent say HJR-3 is the most important issue.

I could go on and on, and, in fact, I think I will.

  • 80 percent of voters think they should decide the issue.
  • Only 25 percent of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for their state lawmaker if they didn’t vote to put HJR-3 on the ballot.
  • Only 26 percent of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for their state lawmaker if the second sentence in the amendment was removed.
  • Only 21 percent of voters say HJR-3 would be their main reason to head to the polls in November.
  • 87 percent of voters say they know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

And, by the way, this poll was done by surveying 800 registered voters and a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. So there’s a chance that 53 percent support is really 49.5 percent. And please note, no one has begun spending the millions on messaging just yet.

This is where it gets interesting. Right now, HJR-3 is held up in the House Judiciary committee where at least three lawmakers are still labeled as undecided. From what I am told it’s that second sentence which is causing all the problems for a lot of people, since no one knows what means, despite efforts to clarify it with some companion legislation.

Plus, when you throw in the fact that a federal judge just threw out that state of Oklahoma’s marriage amendment, which was pretty much a carbon copy of Indiana’s amendment, the reasons to leave the amendment at the altar just tend to get longer and longer everyday.

Abdul is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at

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