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Advocates prep for Indiana gay marriage battle

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Supporters and opponents of gay marriage are already squaring off in a battle over whether to amend Indiana's constitution that could stretch until voters decide the issue in November 2014.

Gay marriage supporters released a report Monday showing that writing the state's ban on gay marriage into the constitution could have broad, unintended consequences, dealing with as many as 614 different laws ranging from ethics rules to tax benefits. Indiana Equality President Rick Sutton said the findings from the study conducted by Indiana University Maurer School of Law Students should at least make lawmakers pause before approving the ban.

Any effort to amend the constitution requires lawmakers to sign off on the measure twice before sending the issue to the voters. With one vote by the Republican-dominated General Assembly already down, and a second approval a foregone conclusion, Sutton said his group's efforts would shift to the ballot box, where voters could see something "probably on the level of a governor's race."

"I believe we'd see a large-scale effort, not unlike a statewide political campaign," he said, noting his group has had already drafted a campaign plan for 2014.

Supporters of the ban, which could take top billing when lawmakers return in January, called the report a scare tactic designed to spook lawmakers who already voted overwhelmingly to approve the ban in 2011.

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said supporters of the ban modeled the Indiana measure off of ones approved a decade earlier in Wisconsin and Kentucky.

"It's been in place for 10 years with no negative consequences. It has not affected the universities. It has not affected the businesses. It's simply kept marriage as defined in Kentucky and Wisconsin law, and we think it would do the same thing here," he said.

Nine states, including Indiana, prohibit same-sex marriage by statute, and 30 prohibit it in their constitutions. Out of 29 states where constitutional amendments or initiatives that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman were put on the ballot in a referendum, voters in 28 states voted to approve such amendments.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma has said the ban could get quick approval from lawmakers if it comes up, but he did not include it in an official packet of proposals Republican leaders say they will focus on. Opponents of the ban, including Sutton's group, said they would do everything they can to keep the issue in front of lawmakers.

Maryland, Maine and Washington were the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote. Six other states — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont — and the District of Columbia already allowed gay marriage. But the other states' laws were enacted either by lawmakers or court rulings.

"I believe the national tide has shifted dramatically since" lawmakers first voted on the ban in 2011," Sutton said. "I think we've not slipped backward, but moved forward."

Supporters of the ban say the new report is part of an effort to drag out a debate that was essentially already decided by lawmakers last year, and already written in the state law.

"The issue is really easy to understand for Hoosiers and for lawmakers: Should marriage between one man and one woman be protected?" said Eric Miller, president of Advance America, an Indiana-based group supporting the ban. "What we're doing with a constitutional amendment is not changing the law; we're protecting the law from being changed by a judge or court."

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  • What about the business case?
    Sad that IBJ didn't mention the business case for same sex marriage. Indiana: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/03/17/indiana-companies-protest-anti-gay-marriage-amendment/ Nationwide: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77002.html
  • family values
    When I think of Phil Hinkle and what his legacy should be. Reversing just a few of the hypocritical idiotic laws, bans and just bad decisions of the past would be a great start. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RmpuAgbE-1U
  • It Has Affected Companies, Universities and Families
    Micah Clark thinks the ban on same-sex marriage hasn't had negative consequences because that's what he and others against same-sex marriage want us to believe. Well, Mr. Clark is wrong! I am a member of Indianapolis PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) and I know for a fact that many LGBT children have left the state because they feel unwelcome here. Think about how their parents and families feel - their children are living in other states and these parents don't get to see them very often. These are bright and talented young people who could have been an asset to Indiana, but because of discrimination don't live here any longer. If this amendment goes through, how many other families will be broken up? How many more bright young people will we lose because our legislators don't believe in treating ALL of their constituents in the same manner? I'm sorry Mr. Clark but you are dead-wrong. The "negative consequences" have been occurring for years!
  • Constitutional amendment bad idea
    Putting bigotry into the State Constitution is not a good idea. If you don't like gay marriage then don't marry someone of the same sex. Mourdock already embarrassed the State of Indiana. Let's not embarrass the state again by showing how many bigots we have in Indiana.
  • By the way...
    ...how many self-loathing, closeted legislators does it take to pass a constitutional amendment?
  • Wrong Side Of History
    Legislating intolerance and denying rights of any kind has Indiana on the wrong side of history with this issue. It's really just a matter of time before gay rights are recognized nationally. The only question is when Indiana will be counted as a forward thinking state and stop losing valuable human assets.
  • Republicans don't get it.
    Gerrymandered districts are the ONLY reason Republicans maintained their stranglehold on the state house. This is exactly the kind of legislation that keeps Indiana on the list of "states not to visit, not to do business with and definitely, not to live in." Get over your self-righteous piety and do your jobs.
  • It HAS affected companies, etc.
    I have several friends - all top-management at large firms without domestic partnership arrangements - who left for other states. The companies were surprised, didn't initially "get it," and are now re-visiting their policies. Had Indiana simply recognized, legally, what IS a marriage, we would keep bright, younger professionals.
  • Discrimination
    "It's been in place for 10 years with no negative consequences. It has not affected the universities. It has not affected the businesses." - Micah Clark No negative consequences, Mr. Clark? What about the GLBT families living in Indiana that are denied the right to marry the person they love and be extended the same benefits as other married couples? This is about real people and how it impacts their lives, not about universities or big business. Everyone deserves to be protected by the law, not discriminated against simply for being true to who they are. A majority of the country now understands the true impacts of these discriminatory legislation efforts and we will eventually see GLBT folks obtain equal rights. Indiana Legislators are only delaying the inevitable by continuing to entertain and/or implement misguided efforts to win votes by appeasing religious extremists.
    • Mind your Own
      Laws and the hypocracy of them are the determining factors in which I choose to live by my own laws. Pray without involvement in any church, and mind my own business.
    • Agree With MarkusR
      I don't see how gay marriage would attack marriage between a man and a woman. It isn't as if they'd force your church to marry a gay couple, even though this isn't about legalizing gay marriage, just about banning it permanently. All it could possibly do is stabilize Indiana's reputation as being the Midwest's dumbest state.
    • Protecting What Now?
      "Should marriage between one man and one woman be protected?" asked Eric Miller. Here's news for Eric Miller: the marriage between one man and one woman is not under a threat. No one is taking that away. What you are taking away though is the right of some people to marry simply because you don't like them.

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