Gay marriage supporters cheer setback for constitutional ban in conservative Indiana

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"It is a shame that Senator Long choose to compound the mistake the House made disenfranchising 1 million Hoosier voters by leaving the future of marriage in the hands of judicial activists rather than the voters of Indiana," Clark said. "We will be back next year, pushing to take this issue to the people of Indiana."

The author of a proposal that would have restored the civil unions ban and place the constitutional ban back on track for a November referendum bemoaned the fact that he could not find enough support among Republican senators.

The ban's "second sentence is officially dead in the 2014 IGA. Not enough support to reinsert it on 2nd reading," Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, wrote on Twitter.

When the constitutional ban came up for consideration Thursday, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann — who presides over the Senate — asked lawmakers if they had any amendments. The Senate chamber was silent, as were hundreds of activists just outside the Senate who had been chanting and singing just minutes earlier.

Ellspermann then acknowledged she had heard no amendments to the measure, and declared it ready for a final vote later in the Senate. Thursday was the last day lawmakers could have altered the measure and put it back on track for a November vote.

Delph later said he did not seek a vote on restoring the "second sentence" civil unions ban because he knew it would fail.

Supporters of the ban say it is needed to prevent courts from overturning Indiana's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. But they struggled to find their footing after House lawmakers stripped the civil unions language.

Pence lobbied for a November vote on the ban in his State of the State address and at a rally of ban supporters, but later said he was removing himself from the legislative debate.

Thursday's Senate action effectively ends much of the debate for 2014, but Long said he expects the issue to be taken up again in 2015 or 2016. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said Democrats may be outnumbered in the Senate but would fight to keep the issue off the table.

"This is not something future Hoosiers say is a good idea," Lanane said. "It's not good for the future of Indiana and it's not good for the future of the nation."

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