And it gives legislators in a conservative state some political cover to question the need to amend the constitution when there is already a law on the books that bans gay marriage.
“I think they’re hearing more people of faith question the need for a constitutional amendment,” Downs said. “More and more people seem to be asking: ‘If the law already says you can’t do it, why do we need to throw another stone on the pile?’ “
State Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany agrees. In 2011, he was the only Republican in the Legislature to vote against the amendment. On Monday, 13 Republicans voted against the amendment even after it was stripped of the civil union language, along with Democrats who’d voted for the amendment the last time.
“The physical presence of clergy in the Statehouse has been a major factor,” Clere said. “I don’t think it’s something that a lot of legislators expected to see. It’s certainly added a welcome dimension.”
Still, there are questions about how many more legislators amendment opponents can convert. The stripped-down resolution is headed to the more conservative Senate, which passed the amendment on a 40-10 vote in 2011.
Smith’s Indiana Family Institute and other conservative faith groups are lobbying senators to restore the civil unions ban. They contend the clause is essential to the legal argument that marriage deserves unique status as the only way to deliver the social benefits of raising children with a mother and father.
Freedom Indiana’s faith organizers are re-doubling their efforts, as well.
“This is not about building a campaign. This is about building a whole community,” Case said. “We don’t want to win a vote. We want to win hearts. We want to move Indiana into the kind of place that it can be place – where Hoosier hospitality comes alive and we really live what we say.”