The twittersphere is exploding with the news that, by a vote of 52 – 43, the House has amended HJR 3 to remove the second sentence that prohibits recognition of a legal status similar to marriage for unmarried people.
This would seem to mean that the measure won’t be on the 2014 ballot. Under the Indiana Constitution, the same proposed amendment has to be passed by consecutive General Assemblies. There is a marginal argument to be made that, because the first sentence was approved by two General Assemblies, that piece can go on the ballot. But it’s tough to argue that it’s the same amendment. There is a substantial difference between the two. The impact of the second resolution is different from the impact of the first. We can’t just retroactively declare that the current version, with only the first sentence, would have passed the previous General Assembly. (Update Rep. Truitt’s amendment was the one that was offered, and its language specifically refers the amendment to the next General Assembly.)
The House still has to pass the amended version on Third Reading and then it goes over to the Senate. The Senate could amend it again to put the second sentence back in and the House could concur in those changes — then it could get on the 2014 ballot.
This is significant. Apart from the apparent trend of greater and greater acceptance of marriage equality, the demographics in a Presidential election year are quite different from those in a midterm year.