News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 26, 2014

Vigo legislators differ on court ruling on same-sex marriage

TERRE HAUTE — Democratic legislators from Terre Haute say they support a federal judge’s decision to strike down Indiana’s ban on gay marriage.

But a Republican legislator from Terre Haute does not share that point of view.

State Sen. Tim Skinner, a Democrat, said he was not surprised by the court ruling. “We felt like it probably would be ruled unconstitutional,” he said.

He is supportive of the decision. His position has “morphed” through the years, just as his constituents’ support for gay marriage has grown.

“It’s definitely going to be an interesting time in Indiana — a lawyer’s dream,” he said.

He described it as a very divisive issue, one that “Republicans have used as wedge the last few years. They are not going to roll over and let it happen easily,” he predicted.

Now that a federal court has ruled, Republican leadership in both the Indiana House and Senate have a tough decision to make, he said. Skinner believes the Legislature should let the issue play out through the courts.

But he believes there will be an element in the Republican Party “that will push to keep this issue alive. It plays well within some of their districts and the right wing of the Republican Party, and they can’t let it go.”

The issue “will put the onus on Republican leadership,” Skinner said.

Rep. Clyde Kersey, D-Terre Haute, also supports the federal court’s decision.

There is growing sentiment in Indiana against laws that prevent same-sex marriage, he said.

State Rep. Bionca Gambill, D-Terre Haute, sworn in just last week, believes “this past session, the Legislature wasted eight weeks of time” on the issue — a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage — when most knew it would end up in the courts, anyway.

“If we had just left it to the courts and done the business of working men and women, those eight weeks would not have been lost,” she said. “We would have been doing the will of the people and getting on with finding good-paying jobs and livable wages and things of that nature.”

Now, a federal court has ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, and she supports that decision. “I think the rights of all Hoosiers should be protected,” Gambill said.

A caucus of precinct committee officials in House District 45 recently elected her to replace Kreg Battles, who retired.

Rep. Alan Morrison, a Republican from Terre Haute, wasn’t aware of the federal court’s decision until a Tribune-Star reporter contacted him for comment, he said.

“I respectfully would disagree with that decision, but obviously, we have to live in the world we are in and deal with the way the judges and courts view things,” he said.

He wanted to read more about the court decision before commenting further.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

 

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