Politics & Government
5:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Gay Marriage Ban Gets Its First Hearing at the Statehouse

People on both sides of the debate over Indiana’s proposed same sex marriage ban amendment spoke passionately for hours in front of a packed House chamber Monday, as the amendment made its first legislative stop in a House committee.

The Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis.
The Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis.

The House Judiciary Committee audience was a sea of red – that’s the color opponents of the marriage amendment known as HJR-3 chose to wear.  Those who testified before the committee in opposition to the amendment were from a diverse background – there were leaders from Indiana’s business and faith communities, legal experts and average citizens. 

One of those citizens was Jeremy Wentzel, a senior at Wabash College.  Wentzel, who is gay, also says he’s conservative – and as he decides where to live after college, he says the marriage amendment is weighing heavily on his mind.

“I can be a young conservative anywhere,” Wentzel said. “But when it comes to being a young, gay conservative, raising a family – a strong family – and getting married, that means I just can’t be a Hoosier right now.”

But there are those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who don’t agree with Wentzel.  Reen Gutgsell, who came out as a lesbian in the 1960s, says she’s also a Catholic.  She says denying same sex marriage is about upholding moral truths and traditions important for the good of society.

“Now I’m not saying that gay couples cannot raise a child; I’m not saying that at all,” Gutgsell said. “But what I’d like to know is, how does that couple explain morals and values to that child?”

The committee chairman chose not to take a vote on the marriage ban amendment Monday, saying he wants to give committee members time to digest the testimony.