- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Republican Gov. Mike Pence said Friday he would like lawmakers to restore language blocking civil unions in the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Indiana, a move that would place the issue on track to get on the November ballot.

Language that banned civil unions was removed by the House earlier this week, after a group of Republicans joined Democrats to support the move. That phrasing, which became known as “second sentence,” was a sticking point for many Republicans who otherwise supported banning gay marriage. The proposal is now in the Indiana Senate.

The measure would not need Pence’s approval before going before votes on the November ballot if it’s approved by lawmakers before the end of the legislative session in March. But during his State of the State address earlier this month, he asked lawmakers to approve the amendment as it was first proposed last year to ban both the gay marriage and civil unions.

“Let me say I support traditional marriage, and I expressed support for the resolution that the Legislature passed during the last session and considered at the outset of this session,” Pence told WISH-TV on Friday (https://bit.ly/1elU2kE ).

He also told the television station that he would not comment again on the issue until the Legislature completes its work in March.

Pence’s comments marked the first time he had spoken about Monday’s vote, which could push the proposed amendment to the November 2016 ballot. Under state law, lawmakers must approve the same measure they approved in 2011 in order for it to appear on the ballot this November. Removing the civil unions language would reset the clock on Indiana’s constitutional amendment process.

The governor has kept the issue at arm’s length throughout the debate. Constitutional amendments do not cross the governor’s desk for approval, but Pence still controls the bully pulpit as the state’s chief executive.

Pence’s staffers also have attempted to shield him from talking about the volatile issue. A spokeswoman opened a news conference Wednesday saying that Pence would not answer questions on anything other than the state’s propane shortage. The governor later darted from the news conference while a staffer cut in front of a reporter trying to reaching him.

The governor said he would address the issue “later” because he was “late for what I’m late for right now.” A spokeswoman said she would not divulge the pressing event that caused Pence to bolt from the room.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, announced Thursday that the Senate would likely take up the measure the week of Feb. 10. Long has been mum on whether he supports reinserting the civil unions ban, but said he would like to see any effort to restore that part of the measure play out in front of the entire Senate, instead of in a committee.


Information from: WISH-TV, https://www.wishtv.com/

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