Last week, 51 of Mahan’s colleagues, including 22 Republicans, agreed with him. Their vote left intact the ban on gay marriage, but the change in the resolution’s language to remove civil unions could delay or derail the amendment by keeping it off the November ballot. Two separately elected legislatures must approve a proposed constitutional amendment – of the exact same wording – before it goes to voters for ratification.
Shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Thank God!” could be heard from amendment opponents in the hallway outside the House chamber after the vote. Those religious expressions weren’t just reserved for the dramatic finish. For months, arguments of morality and belief have framed both sides.
Amendment supporters, including Republican Gov. Mike Pence, still draw upon a Biblical view of marriage that condemns same-sex unions. During the House debate, Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, argued that Hoosiers should be given the chance to express that belief at the ballot box: “Somebody said to me, ‘You know, Burton, part of your problem is you let your faith get in the way.’ I said, ‘I certainly hope so. I’m not ashamed of it and I’m not going to back away.’”
In the months leading up to the vote, faith-infused messages were as common from the likes of Whittney Murphy, a Pentecostal church member who holds the title of “faith organizer” with Freedom Indiana, a coalition of businesses, organizations, and churches opposing HJR-3.
“Love leads every conversation that I have,” Murphy said. “We work with many denominations, many churches, and many people of different faiths. But one of the tenets of all faith communities is to love one another and treat each person as you want to be treated. The question is, Does HJR-3 meet that test?”
Churches around the state are putting that question to lawmakers. Last November, more than 300 faith leaders signed a letter, posted online by Freedom Indiana, opposing the amendment. The letter said its signatories didn’t agree on whether the state should grant same-sex marriage. They did agree that the constitution wasn’t the right place to decide the issue.