[JURIST] The Indiana State Senate [official website] voted 39 to 10 Monday to pass a state constitutional amendment defining marriage to be between a man and a woman. While same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] is already illegal in the state under its enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act [text], supporters of SJ 7 [text; resolution digest] say an amendment is necessary should a court overturn the statute. The proposal would change Article 1 of the state constitution to read:
(a) Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman. (b) This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.Some say Part B of the amendment is unclear and could be read as banning civil unions and restricting the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples [Indiana Daily Student report]. Amendment sponsor State Sen. Brandt Hershman [official profile] has pushed for a referendum on the issue; if the amendment is approved by the state House of Representatives, it could be put to the voters in November 2008. The Evansville Courier & Press has more.
Earlier this month a Michigan court ruled [JURIST report] that an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman also prohibits Michigan public employers from offering health insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners of homosexual employees. While Massachusetts is currently the only US state to recognize same-sex marriage after a November 2003 state high court ruling, in January lawmakers there pushed forward a proposed constitutional ban [JURIST reports], although it is far from unclear whether that will actually end up on the November 2008 state ballot.