INDIANAPOLIS – The GOP-led Senate voted again Thursday to approve a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Indiana.
Senate Joint Resolution 13 passed 38-10 with all local senators in support.
The resolution must be approved again in 2011 before voters could make the final decision in a 2012 statewide referendum.
Marriage is one of the foundations of our society and one I firmly believe needs to be protected, said Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, expressed concern that the second sentence in the amendment could affect domestic violence protections afforded to unmarried Hoosiers.
That provision says a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
This certainly will not say welcome to many people in our society, Lanane said.
Thursdays vote is the latest volley in a fight that started in 2004. Attempts that year failed, but lawmakers in 2005 passed the constitutional amendment for the first time, when Republicans controlled the House.
Since then, Democrats have been in charge, and many of them have expressed concern about the effect of the proposed amendment, stalling the effort.
Indiana already has a state law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and it was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2005.
The amendment now moves to the Democratic-led House, where Speaker Pat Bauer, of South Bend, has repeatedly said the amendment is repetitive and unnecessary.
Senate passes bill altering townships
Township boards would be eliminated in Indiana and their duties would be transferred to the county level starting in 2013 if a Statehouse proposal becomes law.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 29-19 Thursday for the bill, which now moves to the Democratic-led House for consideration.
The bill is among several measures that would consolidate or revamp township government.
The Indiana House has passed a proposal that would let voters decide in November whether to eliminate their township trustees and boards.
Opponents say township government is antiquated and expensive, while supporters say its the form of government closest to the people.
Senators form conservative panel
A group of conservative Republican senators established the Indiana State Senate Conservative Caucus to advance conservative values in the General Assembly.
The group has two northeast Indiana members – Sen. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, and Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle.
The first thing the caucus did was adopt a resolution of support for Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.
The Conservative Caucus believed it was important to acknowledge and recognize the strong leadership demonstrated by Sen. Long on many issues key to our cause, said Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus. In tandem with Sen. Longs continued stewardship of the Senate, the Conservative Caucus provides a united voice to help ensure the General Assemblys actions are effective, efficient and focused on conservative values and ideals.
The caucus also took positions of several pending pieces of legislation and came out against only one – a bill making changes to gambling law in Indiana.
Casino winnings bill passes Senate
The Senate voted 48-0 Thursday to require casinos to withhold winnings from certain jackpot winners who have outstanding child-support obligations.
Gov. Mitch Daniels is pushing the measure as a way to further improve child-support collections.
Under Senate Bill 163, casinos would have to check a child-support registry and then intercept taxable gambling winnings generally at or more than $1,200.
Casinos have opposed the government mandate and said a private industry should not be required to complete a government function.
Currently, about 165,000 non-custodial parents owe more than $2 billion in back child-support payments.
The bill now moves to the House.
Confined feeding limits defeated
The Indiana House has rejected a bill that would prohibit new confined livestock feeding operations from being built within two miles of a state park or reservoir.
The House voted 57-40 against the bill Thursday.
Proponents said the bill was needed to protect state parks and reservoirs from being polluted by manure spills from confined livestock operations.
Opponents said the bill was unnecessary because the state already regulates confined livestock operations.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.