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Gay marriage ban in GOP pressure cooker

– Pressure is mounting on Republican lawmakers pushing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

On Tuesday both the House and Senate GOP caucuses met behind closed doors to discuss the issue and others that will come up in the 2014 session.

Those meetings took place just hours after a new poll suggested more Hoosiers are against the proposed constitutional amendment than in support. A conservative group also has sent a survey to all Indiana lawmakers asking them to declare their position on the amendment.

State law already defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, would not comment on the poll because he hadn’t fully reviewed the data. .

And he declined to talk with reporters after the caucus, putting out a statement instead.

“Today’s meeting was an informational opportunity to discuss all viewpoints and obtain more information on many issues that we’ll address this session, but no final decisions were ultimately made,” Long said. “By tradition, our caucuses are private and we’ll keep our conversation confidential out of respect to our members, but we had a great discussion and I look forward to a productive session for all Hoosiers.”

Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma have been vocal in the past supporting the amendment. But some other Republicans lawmakers appear to be showing some discomfort as the electorate’s mood shifts. A new poll released Tuesday by Freedom Indiana found that by 64 percent to 36 percent, voters say amending the Indiana Constitution is not the right way to deal with same sex marriage.

A slight plurality – 46 percent to 43 percent – opposes the amendment.

For comparison, an April statewide survey by the same polling company showed voters were similarly divided, but with 46 percent in support.

“The message from these results is clear: Hoosiers overwhelmingly support some legal recognition for same-sex couples, and they oppose amending the Indiana Constitution to address the issue of same-sex marriage and rights,” said Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson.

Freedom Indiana is a bipartisan organization working to defeat the proposal.

The poll found almost three-fourths of Hoosiers believe there should be some legal recognition or rights for gay and lesbian couples.

More than half of respondents would vote against the amendment after finding out that it bans civil unions and might have other consequences, the poll reported.

Lawmakers face an important vote on the constitutional amendment when session convenes in January. If approved by the legislature for the second time, the issue would go to voters for a final say in November 2014.

The statewide survey of 800 registered voters was conducted by Bellwether Research for Freedom Indiana between Sept. 17 to 19. Its margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

Bellwether is run by Republican pollster Christine Matthews.

nkelly@jg.net

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