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Indiana chamber staying neutral in gay marriage fight

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The Indiana Chamber of Commerce likely won't get involved in what could be a contentious fight next year over whether to add a gay marriage ban to the state constitution, the pro-industry group's president said.

The lobbying group will remain neutral on the proposed amendment unless its board of directors unexpectedly decides to take a position, chamber President Kevin Brinegar told The Times of Munster..

"We have members on both sides of the issue, so we have not adopted a position either in favor or opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment," Brinegar said. "I don't see that changing."

Executives of two well-known Indiana companies — Columbus-based engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. and Indianapolis drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. — have argued against the amendment, saying they worry it could make the state appear unwelcoming and hurt their recruitment of employees.

The Indiana chamber is among the most prominent lobbying forces within the Statehouse on business and education issues.

Prominent Republican leaders — including Gov. Mike Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro-Tem David Long — support the push for the proposed amendment. State law already prohibits gay marriage, but supporters of the ban say they want the stronger legal step.

Bosma and Long have said they expect the General Assembly to vote during its session that starts in January whether to advance the amendment to a statewide referendum. If legislators approve that step, the proposal would go before voters on the November 2014 ballot.

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  • Pure Prejudice
    Setting aside the fact that a ban on equal marriage rights for gay couples is rooted in religious prejudice and initiated by political opportunists that do little to serve the best interests of this State, it is difficult to understand why the Indiana Chamber would be "neutral" on this issue. For example, say a recent top graduate from Indiana University (who happens to be gay) gets a job offer from Eli Lilly and also a similar company located in a state that has marriage equality. The only difference in the compensation package are the spousal benefits. Which is he/she more likely to choose? Why, in a State that already struggles to keep/attract top talent, would an economic development organization allow (i.e. remain neutral) additional burden to be placed on local companies that are seeking to hire the best and brightest? Yes, one can argue that there might be a staight candidate ready to fill the position, but you have to ask yourself, what kind of person wants to live in State that denies equal rights to its citizens?
  • business smarts
    Regardless of Indiana's passage of a constitutional amendment, it will be wiped out as soon as the next appropriate case reaches SCOTUS. There simply does not exist and rational basis for recognizing a NY validly married hetero couple who moves to Indiana, but not a validly married same sex couple. Even Justice Scalia so observed in his Windsor dissent. Thus, a business will carry 3 different classes of employees with 2 differing benefit plans. One will cover the gay and straight employee spouses and the other will extend coverage to partners of gay employees.....a very expensive proposition with 2 differing tax consequences. Why not park the business in a state which has same sex marriage.....one plan,simple, less costly and contented employees. Indiana will learn soon that bigotry is very expensive!
  • Reply to John
    John -- The whole point of the article was about the position of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce (ICOC). Its very existence is to promote business and eceonomic development. Anyway, while I do not necessarily disagree with you, you've proven my point -- no facts or statistical support for the premise advanced by Chuck that a ban would hurt economic development. Finally, your suggestion that someone who doesn't share your views because of "religion or allegiance to a perceived tradition" is some kind of neanderthal is as equally intolerant of the views of others as you claim theirs is to yours.
  • Gay Rights
    I hope Republicans and some Democrats won't put bigotry into the state constitution.
  • Re: Educate Me
    Right now, it is illegal, but with a simple legislative change, it could be legal. There is minimal fiction to making the change. Of course if it were a constitutional amendment, it would be a far more difficult thing to change. If all other states decide to change their law in the matter of a few weeks or months, but Indiana has to take years to change their constitution, that really doesn't allow much flexibility for the state.
  • Equal right to marry, not business
    At base and most importantly, this is not about business or numbers or economic proof. It is about an equal right to marry for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. If one's opposition to an equal right to marry is based on religion or allegiance to a perceived tradition, then let's go back to women as chattel, slavery and a flat earth circled by the sun.
    • Educate Me
      I am not in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage. However, I would welcome at least one verifiable statistic which proves that a constitutional ban on something which is already illegal will hurt the state's economy. It seems that every time I hear this contention, it comes from someone who's more emotional than factual. Granted, the CEO's of Cummins and Lilly have more vision about this than the average person, but I would still like to see some objective statistical proof. How many people would this affect out of the entire economy? And how many married hetero people are going to turn down a six figure job at Lilly because of this single issue? People got emotional about Right to Work claiming it would hurt the economy too, but it had the reverse effect. I don't see the need for a ban, but show me the numbers, that's all I'm sayin'.
      • Cowards
        ICOC proves itself yet again to be a spineless cowardly panderer to its donors and members. The ban would hurt economic development and growth, ICOC. Don't you get that? Apparently not.
      • Good luck with that
        Good luck with that, Indiana! You pass this stupid ban on the very thing that gays/lesbians deserve, someone take this to the federal level :)

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      1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

      2. $3B would hurt Lilly's bottom line if there were no insurance or Indemnity Agreement, but there is no way that large an award will be upheld on appeal. What's surprising is that the trial judge refused to reduce it. She must have thought there was evidence of a flagrant, unconscionable coverup and wanted to send a message.

      3. As a self-employed individual, I always saw outrageous price increases every year in a health insurance plan with preexisting condition costs -- something most employed groups never had to worry about. With spouse, I saw ALL Indiana "free market answer" plans' premiums raise 25%-45% each year.

      4. It's not who you chose to build it's how they build it. Architects and engineers decide how and what to use to build. builders just do the work. Architects & engineers still think the tarp over the escalators out at airport will hold for third time when it snows, ice storms.

      5. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/duke-energy-customers-angry-about-money-for-nothing

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