Indiana group to oppose gay marriage amendment

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An alliance of businesses and human rights groups is launching an effort to defeat passage of an amendment that would write Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution.

A coalition that includes major corporations such as Eli Lilly and Co. and groups such as Indiana Equality Action was scheduled to announce the new organization Wednesday in downtown Indianapolis.

The gay marriage ban is expected to be a top issue in Indiana in 2014 as Republicans controlling the Legislature face a deadline to pass the amendment in order to put it to voters. Lawmakers passed the proposed amendment in 2011, but the bill needed a second vote of approval either this year or next year in order to go to voters. Lawmakers let the issue lie dormant this year while they awaited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.

Indiana is the latest state to consider adding a gay marriage ban into its constitution. Republicans in Minnesota pushed the issue to the 2012 statewide ballot, where it failed on Election Day. The campaign that formed to defeat the amendment quickly turned its resources to legalizing gay marriage, which became law this month.

North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in May 2012.

As of June, 36 states banned same-sex marriage, either through legislation or constitutional provisions.

Supporters of the bans say placing them in the constitution makes it harder for future lawmakers and judges to undo laws against same-sex marriages. Critics argue such bans paint states as unfriendly places to do business.

Executives from two of Indiana's largest employers — Indianapolis-based Lilly and Columbus-based engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. — told legislative panels in 2011 that they oppose the amendment because they believe it could damage the state's image and make it harder to recruit new employees.

"We really need to recruit the very best and the very brightest," Lilly executive Rob Smith told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We think writing this language into the state's highest legal document will provide a barrier to those efforts."

About 62 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer same-sex domestic partner health benefits, according to the gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

Lilly has offered same-sex employee benefits for about 10 years, said Smith, the pharmaceutical giant's senior director of corporate responsibility.

A study conducted last year by Indiana University Maurer School of Law students found 614 state laws — ranging from ethics rules to tax benefits — that would be affected by a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages or civil unions.

"I think all those issues target people's hearts," said Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Equality Action. "They're issues of fairness, and Hoosiers believe in fairness."

One of the amendment's backers disputed the idea that it could hurt businesses.

"There's no evidence to show that a same-sex marriage amendment affects corporate growth," said Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana.

Indiana law already defines marriage as between a man and woman, but Clark and other supporters of the amendment say they want a stronger prohibition.

A statewide poll in November for the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and Indianapolis station WISH-TV found a majority of Indiana residents opposed amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

"The polls are nearly dead even on this issue. I think it's an issue that's up for grabs, and I think Hoosiers are ready to talk about it," Sutton said.


  • Let's Rally
    I've written about this issue at: http://www.the-broad-side.com/is-same-sex-marriage-good-for-the-economy
  • Pure Prejudice
    The fact remains 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. I understand the concerns of Indiana's largest employers. 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 the State Legislature impose additional burden 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?
  • Simple
    Put it to a vote. If it passes, it passes. If it doesn't, it doesn't.
  • In reply to JEB
    You make it sound like we’ve been given the keys to the kingdom! God forbid those of us with disgusting lifestyles should be allowed to defend this country by serving in the military. You “normal” people were born with an attraction to the opposite sex. Get it through your head that we just happen to be born with an attraction to the same sex. Yes, BORN that way. When normal people cannot have children on their own because of their “abnormal” reproductive issues, they adopt. ALLOWING us to adopt is our right, not a privilege. The same as being able to provide health insurance for the people we love. And by the way, if you were to look at percentages, us gay folk are probably paying a lot more of your health insurance benefits than you are ours. Just because you are in the majority doesn’t mean that the rights of all others that are different are no less important or justified. We are not AFRAID of straight people, and maybe we’re disgusted by your lifestyle. And why wouldn’t we care what normal people say, do, and think about us? You are the reason why we continue to have to fight for the same rights as “normal people” even though we are just as normal. Has slavery, segregation, and racism taught us nothing? This country cannot continue to treat those in a minority as anything less than those in the majority. And stop using the Bible as an excuse. If God has a problem with us then he can be the one to deal with us when the time comes. NOT YOU.
  • You got it Max
    Jeb doesn't even know what he is arguing for. Yes,let it go. People who have beliefs different from Jeb's must be wrong. Oh wait, isn't that what this country was founded on...... Just another example of backward Indiana - the inability to change with the rest of the world.
  • re: JEB
    "Our lawmakers have a lot more important things to deal with right now." You couldn't be more correct, JEB. You must think it quite a tragedy, then, that the legislature keeps spending time trying to pass constitutional amendments on the issue.
  • Let it go!!
    Why do these people want to continue to harp on lawmakers about marriage...LET IT GO. They got their health insurance, they can be in the military, they can be in boy scouts, they can adopt children (due to the abnormal nature of their relationships they are not able to produce their own children) so what is the big deal now. The gays that I know that are in relationships argue more than people in NORMAL relationships. This is just another step for those people to attempt to make their life style seem normal. This life style is not normal, and should not be treated as such by the laws or anything else. Not everyone has to accept that life style and be O-K with it, and those that live that way should not care what normal people think anyway. By the way, I am NOT AFRAID of gay people, I just am disgusted by their lifestyle. Let it go...our lawmakers have a lot more important things to deal with right now, and my tax payer dollars are being used for this!!(as well to pay for their partners health insurance)

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