Few contemporary political skirmishes break down so cleanly into two sides: The right side of history, and the wrong.
The fight over gay marriage is one such issue.
On Oct. 22, the Indy Chamber sided with a bipartisan group of Indiana leaders determined to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman and remove existing protections for same-sex and unmarried couples.
The Indy Chamber’s case is simple: Defeating the amendment would help position Indiana as a state that values diversity, in turn strengthening the local economy and helping Hoosier companies recruit talent. It also would help the state attract and keep younger citizens.
We applaud the Indy Chamber for taking a position at odds with many of its traditional Republican allies, and for promising to use its influence and money to support the fight against HJR-6.
They join the bipartisan group Freedom Indiana, led by Republican strategist Megan Robertson. The group also counts Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc. as prominent contributors and advocates.
The Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to vote early in 2014 whether to send the proposed amendment to a statewide referendum.
Indy Chamber Chairman John Thompson contends the legislative body should focus its attention on measures that “serve to strengthen our economy, not weaken our appeal.” His group vowed to continue its battle against the amendment if the question winds up in the hands of voters next year.
Indiana law already bans same-sex marriage, but the bill’s sponsors hope to add Indiana to a list of 30 states with constitutional bans. Supporters led by the American Family Association of Indiana bristle at the suggestion that defining marriage in the state’s constitution would be bad for business, pointing to rankings that suggest states with similar amendments remain business-friendly.
The question, though, is what kind of jobs and businesses does Indiana want?
If we want high-paying jobs in fields like science and technology that attract educated professionals, we cannot marginalize minority groups and turn a blind eye to the arc of history.
Plenty of voters, most of them older, embrace the concept of a so-called “marriage protection” amendment. But polls show that for young people, there’s no controversy: More than 70 percent of those under 30 support full marriage equality, which isn’t even on the table yet in Indiana.
These young people are the energetic employees, entrepreneurs and citizens Indiana needs.
Let’s not just build “A State that Works.” Let’s build one that welcomes.•
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