Bar Association stands against gay-marriage amendment

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Backed by nearly three-fourths of its members, the Indianapolis Bar Association has taken the unusual step of announcing its opposition to the gay-marriage amendment being debated at the Statehouse.

The announcement comes after several members asked the association to take a position on the proposed constitutional amendment and after the board of directors discussed the issues many times, according to 2014 IndyBar President Jeff Abrams. To be sure of the members’ views, the association conducted a survey and found more than 70 percent favored taking a public stance opposing the amendment, HJR 3, and companion legislation, House Bill 1153.

 “This is unique,” Abrams said. “I would say our legislative committee has voiced opinions before on proposed bills that affect how our lawyers practice law. This is going one step further and making a statement on behalf of our entire membership.”

A survey of its 4,928 attorneys, judges, paralegals and law students conducted last week drew 2,196 responses—a response rate of 47.4 percent, the highest response rate on record for the association.

Of the members who replied to the survey, 73.1 percent were in favor of publicly opposing HJR 3 while 20.1 percent favored taking no position on the measure. A slim portion, 5.4 percent, favored supporting the amendment and 1.5 percent expressed no opinion.

The association joins many major businesses in Indiana, universities, and municipalities in opposing the controversial amendment.

Looking at the Indiana Constitution’s history and precedent, the IndyBar contends the content of the amendment is inappropriate. Prior amendments dealt with defining the role and operation of state government. None focused on regulating individual citizens, as HJR 3 does.

In addition, the bar association has concerns about the unintended consequences upon potentially hundreds of state laws if the amendment is approved by the Legislature and ratified by the public. The uncertainty, the association asserts, would likely lead to an interruption in the administration of justice, years of litigation, and significant expense for individual citizens and Indiana businesses.

The marriage amendment was approved by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee last week and could be voted on by the House of Representatives as early as Monday.


  • Indy Bar
    While I support IndyBar on this, I have to wonder if maybe the organization could actually do something to support its membership like fighting to stop the oversaturation of the legal job market and the the Disciplinary Commission which seems to have little else to do but sanction attorneys for their speech. Instead IndyBar spends its time doing judge surveys that are easily rigged by the big firms to promote certain candidates while trashing others.
  • Indiana Constitution
    But Brandon this isn't the U.S. Constitution. It is Indiana's Constitution and the ratification process does require a vote by the people. Every constitutional amendment is approved that way.
  • Public vote?
    The whole point of the U.S. Constitution is protect the rights of the minority from the whims of the majority. That's why it shouldn't go to a vote. The majority should never get to vote whether to deny rights to a minority.
  • Leona
    If you want to use your own logic, fine. 32% according to your math voted to oppose the amendment. But the same logic then, barely 2% voted to support the amendment. It still means an overwhelming majority voted to oppose the amendment.
  • Conscience
    Wonderful quote. I have a conscience and have exercised my voice AGAINST HJR-3. "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." Thomas Jefferson. All members of the IndyBar regardless of where they stand on HJR-3 are in fact my friends. Why? Because our principles should be placed before our personalities to best serve the public interest. This is why we exist. And this is in my opinion, why we should have remained silent. We do not have to attend every argument to which we are invited.
  • To Leona and Not Renewing
    “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr. This is why I applaud the Bar Association for taking a stance on a (yes, divisive) but exceedingly important issue.
    • Silver Linings
      I'm strongly opposed to this Amendment and am pleased to the see the IBA's stance on this issue as well as the latest polling and procedural prospects for defeating HJR-3 in the legislature. If this passes, however, those who support marriage equality should keep these three silver linings in mind: 1. It's going to lose in November; 2. This issue will bring Democrats to the polls in a mid-term, something that is often difficult; and 3. As in Minnesota, after the pro-marriage equality forces defeat this amendment, they'll likely just stay and push for the legalization of marriage equality. All good things.
    • Let's vote on it
      Let the Public vote on it. What are you afraid of.
      • Too political for this kind of organization
        I agree with Leona. This DOES NOT sound like a majority of the membership backing the association's stance. The association should not publicly take sides with an issue that is this contentious. I'm not renewing.
      • Yes!
        Great comment! Yes, the map does show that. And since you can only have power over a person through fear, Bosma and the other Cons are using fear mongering to the uneducated. Knowledge is the only way to combat ignorance and fear, and those that have knowledge are against the amendment.
      • The math is incorrect
        Correction, more than 3/4 of the bar association did NOT approve of this measure. To be precise: 32% approved. Membership: 4928. Responses to survey on this question:2184. Number that stated yes, we should get involved: 1596. 1596/4928 is 32.38%. Since numbers make me smile, coincidentally: 32 members sit on the Board.
        • Two things
          1. Glad I'm not an IndyBar member because they should only be using member dues to promote initiatives related to their organization 2. Can we please worry about something more important than this gay marriage distraction? Drop the bill and get back to real work legislators
        • Bar
          Bosma should have stuck with his initial thinking of focusing on productive legislation, looks like his strategy to propel him into the State Spotlight is backfiring.
        • Just look at the Map
          The Star published a map from polling that outlines where the support is strongest for what I will call "intolerance" or support for the amendment. It is interesting to note that in ALL the areas where educated Hoosiers live, there is no support of the amendment. Therefore, education=tolerance.
          • Who would think!!
            And the lawyers join the ranks of those with common sense in the state of Insanity, oops, I mean Indiana
          • Reply to Dang!
            Bosma clearly doesn't care. He'll bulldoze this through at the expense of other more critical issues facing Hoosiers. I hate being surrounded by so many close-minded people.
          • Dang!
            The heat is turning up, Bosma.

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