DANIELS: Fight over marriage amendment is foolish

Deborah Daniels
November 30, 2013
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DanielsIndiana has a habit of being a bit behind the curve.

In recent years, we have departed from that tradition, moving boldly in education reform, telecommunications reform and economic development. We have been named the fifth-best state to do business, third best in job attraction, and best in the country for international investment.

Now we are poised to undo much of what we have accomplished by introducing House Joint Resolution 6, the “anti-gay marriage” constitutional amendment, in 2014 despite our existing statutory prohibition of gay marriage.

What can my Republican friends be thinking?

If we wanted to undo the job creation advances we have made in recent years, it is hard to think, other than raising taxes significantly, of a better way than to advance this discriminatory amendment.

HJR 6 would outlaw not only marriage between gays, but also any “legal status identical or substantially similar …” That includes civil unions or other contractual arrangements that would grant legal rights to pension benefits, other domestic partner benefits and family visitation in hospitals.

Our biggest employers are strongly opposed to HJR 6: It will make them less competitive in the global marketplace. According to Rob Smith, senior director of corporate responsibility at Eli Lilly and Co., “We are trying to tackle some of the most … complex health challenges known to mankind … and … we have to recruit and retain a diverse work force consisting of the best and brightest from around the world.”

Jill Cook, vice president of human resources for Cummins Inc., expressed the same concern, adding that, “We will be reluctant to add [jobs in Indiana] if Indiana is a less-welcoming … place for all of our employees.”

She and others, including the Indianapolis chamber, point out that today’s working-age population, gay and straight, demands a workplace environment that is welcoming to all—not just those who are heterosexual.

Ironically, Indiana is once again behind the curve.

The bulk of the states that passed “defense of marriage” constitutional amendments did so before 2000. In recent years, several of the states that passed them have repealed them; some have gone so far as to legalize gay marriage.

Many observers expect that the U.S. Supreme Court, which has found unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act, will soon do the same with state constitutional amendments outlawing gay marriage.

Public opinion has reversed: The Pew Research Center shows a huge swing between 2001 and 2012, from 57 percent/35 percent opposed to gay marriage to 48 percent/44 percent in favor. A Gallup poll in May 2013 found that 53 percent of Americans think gay marriage should be legalized.

And a recent poll in Indiana by the respected Bellweather Research Consulting organization shows that, by 64 percent/43 percent, Hoosiers do not think a constitutional amendment is the right way to deal with gay marriage. Almost 75 percent of Hoosiers believe there should be some legal recognition or rights for gays; and Hoosiers are against HJR 6 by 52 percent/33 percent when told that it would also ban civil unions.

There is much more work to do to make Indiana globally competitive. The gay marriage debate will prevent needed progress by focusing on this contentious and increasingly unpopular issue at the expense of the governor’s economic development agenda.

Finally, young and independent voters, who overwhelmingly oppose discrimination against gays, are being driven from the Republican Party by such demonstrations of intolerance.

So tell me once more: Why are we doing this?•


Daniels, a partner at Krieg DeVault LLP, is a former U.S. attorney, assistant U.S. attorney general, and president of the Sagamore Institute. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.


  • Marriage
    I ask you to consider using the phrase marriage between same sex persons. I believe marriage is marriage. It requires no descriptor such as gay, straight or other word. Thanks.
  • A Parent's Response
    Thank you so much for your support for Equality! Besides this being an economic issue, it is also a family issue. I am co-president of Indianapolis PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends & Allies of Lesbians and Gays) and I have a gay son who lives here in Indiana. I am also one of the very few parents whose (adult) children have not left the state. If HJR-6 passes, I am sure that many of our LGBT children will leave the state, thus breaking up families. Also, many of those who have already left have gone to such universities as Harvard, Yale, American University, UCLA - these extremely bright young people refuse to come home to a state that they feel clearly does not want them. They have, and will, take their talents elsewhere. Can Indiana really afford that brain-drain? Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana claims, "The myth that public policy support for traditional marriage is somehow bad for business is nothing more than a red herring and a scare tactic." Well, I believe that people like Clark believe this because they WANT to believe it. They don't seem to be facing reality. I don't see how pro-family they can be when HJR-6 would clearly cause same-sex families to lose much-needed protections. Clearly, HJR-6 is bad for both business and families, and it needs to just go away.
  • Biblical rules
    I'd like to remind those who are claiming to be merely following the laws of the bible to remember this famous letter. Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them: When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them? I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians? I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here? Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die? I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves? My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. Your devoted fan, Jim
  • Repsonse
    This is and always has been about the religious rights refusal to truly keep it separate from state. They're trying to force Christian religion down everyone's throat through policy and it's unconstitutional. In the end we either live in a country where freedom and justice for all means what's is says or you have to rewrite it for freedom and justice for only people who are of Christian faith.
  • Here's why
    On the one side, a thundering wave of corporations, religious organizations, educational institutions and others have publicly expressed their opposition to HJR-6. On the other side, we have a handful of lobbyists who have built up a network churches and individuals. Interestingly enough, a lot of their fundraising and network building is due precisely to this issue. So, the gay community and its concerns have been a great financial boon to Advance America, the Indiana Family Institute, and several others. It's time to say "NO" to special interest lobbyists and say "YES" to the citizens of Indiana.
  • Thanks Deborah
    Truly happy at least one Indiana Republican gets this. If you can convince others in your party to think in a similarly progressive way, there might be a future for you guys after all.
  • Start Thinking!
    At some point, we should start thinking what we "Christians" are doing to the kids being raised in happy same sex families. How dare we relegatre them to second class citizenry???

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