The Indy Chamber plans to oppose a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, the business advocacy group announced on Tuesday.
"The Indy Chamber is in the business of strengthening our economy and attracting top talent to our region," said John Thompson, chair of the Indy Chamber Board of Directors. "The proposed marriage amendment does nothing to help show the nation that Indiana is a place that welcomes all, not just some, and we must be mindful of how actions such as this will impact our competitiveness on a national and global level."
The Chamber noted that two of Indiana's largest employers—Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. and Columbus-based engine manufacturer Cummins Inc.—oppose the amendment because they believe it could damage the state's image and make it harder to recruit new employees.
"Indiana has set the standard for being a state with a strong, stable economy, one which attracts and retains some of the world's top talent. The passage of [the amendment] would be a major step backward in this mission," Thompson said. "Legislative proposals in coming years should only serve to strengthen our economy, not weaken our appeal."
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. In June, the court ruled 5-4 that the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by states, was unconstitutional.
Other states recently have considered adding a gay marriage ban into their constitutions. 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 earlier this year.
North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in May 2012.
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.
The Chamber's announcement on Tuesday claimed that "no one has been able to clearly define what effects the amendment would have on existing marriages, employer-provided family benefits, human rights ordinances, legal contracts and other protections for all unmarried couples."
Chamber officials said Tuesday that they would work with other opponents of the Indiana amendment during the 2014 legislative session.