INDIANAPOLIS – More than 300 advocates from a variety of faith-groups filled the sanctuary of North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis as they joined together in a candlelight prayer vigil Sunday afternoon, Jan. 12, in opposition to a proposed marriage amendment to the Indiana State Constitution.

During the prayer vigil, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Boulton, president of Christian Theological Seminary of Indianapolis and a strong proponent of Hoosier hospitality, said, “The Jesus I know would have none of this nonsense. Jesus came for the left out and left behind.”

He also said that people of faith believe that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

The prayer vigil was sponsored by Freedom Indiana, which seeks marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Even though The United Methodist Church defines marriage as between and man and a woman, it also defends the civil rights of all people, including gays and lesbians.

The Indiana House Joint Resolution Number 3 and accompanying House of Representatives Bill 1153 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, Jan. 13, in the House Chambers of the Indiana Statehouse.

According to Howey Politics Indiana, an online newsletter about Indiana politics, opponents of the amendment say that the constitutional amendment can’t be “clarified” and that the process should start over. House Bill 1153, filed by Republican State Reps. Eric Turner of Cicero and Jeff Thompson of Lizton attempts to change the controversial second sentence of HJR-3, which passed by vast majorities in 2011.

In HJR-3, the amendment reads: “Only marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman will be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Critics of that amendment that passed in 2011 say it would prohibit any kind of civil unions in the future, while federal tax and military laws and regulations are changing and allowing same-sex couples to get such benefits.

The House Judiciary Committee heard the legislation on Monday, Jan. 13. The hearing, chaired by Representative Greg Steuerwald of Danville (and a member of Avon United Methodist Church), lasted 3½ hours. Hundreds of advocates, both proponents and opponents, jammed the House Chambers and the adjacent hallways during the hearing. The committee did not vote on the legislation, Jan. 13.

At press time, no vote had been announced. If approved, the two pieces of legislation will then go to the House for approval. If defeated, the legislation would die for this session.

Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner and the Indiana Conference Social Advocacy Team both oppose the proposed marriage amendment. (See commentary.)