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US: Indianapolis Bar Association announces opposition to proposed same-sex marriage ban

Joseph McCormick January 27, 2014
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A proposed same-sex marriage ban in the US state of Indiana has been branded “inappropriate”, by the Indianapolis Bar Association.

The official position of the association was announced this week following a survey of its members which found that 73% opposed the HJR-3 bill, which would send an amendment to ban same-sex marriage to a voter referendum.

Out of those that remained, 20% said they would take no position and only 5% said they would support the legislation. 1.5% of responding members said they had no opinion on the legislation.

As well as saying the legislation “stands out as inappropriate”, the Bar Association said it would probably lead to “years of litigation and significat expense for individual citizens and Indiana businesses.”

Showing strong opposition to the legislation were 2,196 attorneys, just under half of the association’s membership.

It is the first time in over 20 years that the organisation had surveyed its entire membership, Julie Armstrong, executive director said.

She said: “It started with a discussion about the public’s lack of awareness, particularly with the second sentence of the proposed amendment,” which bars civil unions as well as same-sex marriage.

“We just thought that if lawyers don’t advise the public on how that effects Hoosiers, who can?”

In a statement, the association said: “Considering these survey results and the board’s review of the proposed amendment and companion legislation, the Indianapolis Bar Association opposes passage of the proposed amendment and legislation,

“First, based on Indiana constitutional history and precedent, the content of this amendment stands out as inappropriate. In the 163-year history of the State’s constitution, it has been amended on subjects such as term limits, taxation, governmental structure, elections, and courts. Prior amendments dealt with what government could and could not do, and how the government is to be formulated and operated, not the regulation of its individual citizens.”

It also warned that members had expressed fears of “unintended consequences” the legislation could have on other areas of law.

“This uncertainty would likely lead to an interruption in the administration of justice, years of litigation,” the statement continued, “and significant expense for individual citizens and Indiana businesses.”

The membership of the bar association is voluntary, and the organisation was founded in 1878.

Earlier today it was announced that the Indiana House of Representatives is evenly split on a constitutional amendment currently being discussed that would ban same-sex marriage in the state.

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