INDIANAPOLIS | House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has no regrets about his decision to pull the marriage amendment from a House committee where defeat appeared likely and move it to another panel.
"My goal has, from the start, been to have this come to the floor because, as I've said, I don't think one person should be making this decision on behalf of all 100 members," Bosma said Thursday. "That's what we were down to in the Judiciary Committee — one person making the decision and taking away the opportunity for every member here to cast their vote, whether it's yes or no."
The Republican-controlled House Elections Committee voted 9-3 along party lines Wednesday night to advance the marriage amendment, House Joint Resolution 3, and its companion explanatory legislation, House Bill 1153, to the full House.
Both measures will be eligible for amendment Monday. A House vote to send them to the Senate could come as soon as Tuesday.
Bosma said he has no plans to restrict or limit debate on the marriage amendment, even though the House is nearing its Feb. 3 deadline for action and dozens of other proposals are awaiting floor votes.
"We don't cut people off around here," Bosma said. "We'll stay as long as the members want to talk about it."
A procedural move that could have killed the amendment was defeated 67-30 on a party-line vote Thursday. State Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, asked the House to reject the Elections Committee report approving the amendment.
"We're going to set precedent, if we adopt this committee report, of kind of handing out mulligans. So if your bill gets stuck in a sand trap, you can just get a mulligan and a do-over," Pierce said. "I think that will end up disrupting the processes of the House."
State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, chairman of the House Rules Committee, said he opposes the marriage amendment, but it would be wrong to reject the committee report.
"This is a procedural vote," Torr said. "This is not on a vote of the substance of the resolution."
Outside the Statehouse, Bosma's unusual maneuvers to advance the marriage amendment have been sharply criticized by opponents of the proposal.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Bosma and House Republicans used "bully-style tactics" to force "unpopular, unnecessary legislation" through committee.
"Their lack of vision in calling HJR-3 to question shows how completely out of touch they are when it comes to the real needs of Hoosiers, and how intent they are in creating distractions from their failed leadership and a sagging state economy," Zody said.
Libertarian Party Chairman Dan Drexler said the House Election Committee wasted five hours hearing testimony on the amendment when passage was a foregone conclusion.
"The issue at hand is not whether voters have a say, it is whether Speaker Brian Bosma was able to have his own personal say," Drexler said. "Lost in this debate is the basic truth that the tyranny of a majority should not be able to strip away the liberties of a minority voice."
Megan Robertson, the Portage native leading Freedom Indiana, a business-backed group against the amendment, said a "jury-rigged process" won't stop them from continuing to fight.
"Lawmakers heard from Hoosiers whose lives will be directly and negatively affected if this language is enshrined in our Constitution, and those voices will only grow stronger the longer the issue of protecting our friends, neighbors and families is up for debate," she said.
House Joint Resolution 3 would add the state's existing ban on gay marriage to the Indiana Constitution along with a sentence declaring, "A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized."
If the proposed amendment is approved this year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, as it was in 2011, Hoosier voters will decide at the Nov. 4 general election whether to ratify or reject it.