Mayors speak out against amendment on gay marriage

A bipartisan group of Indiana mayors, including those of some of the state's largest cities, announced their opposition Tuesday to placing Indiana's ban on gay marriage in the state constitution.

The mayors of Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend and Hammond were among those expressing opposition because they said the proposed constitutional ban would hurt their cities economically and deny equal rights to same-sex couples.

"Indiana law already defines marriage and I don't see the overriding government interest in adding such an amendment to our state's constitution," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, said in a statement distributed by Freedom Indiana, a coalition of business groups and individuals fighting the amendment.

Fort Wayne's Tom Henry, a Democrat who leads the state's second-largest city, also came out against the constitutional ban in a statement also distributed by the coalition.

"We're asking the Indiana General Assembly to focus its attention on issues that help cities across our state be more competitive in economic development," Henry said.

If the proposed constitutional ban wins legislative approval in 2014, it then would go before voters in a referendum. Supporters of a constitutional ban say it's needed to solidify Indiana's law banning same-sex marriage against potential court decisions that would strike it down.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, a Republican, wrote southwestern Indiana lawmakers explaining his opposition to the proposed amendment. The Evansville Courier & Press reported that Winnecke wrote he considers the amendment unnecessarily divisive and that economic development, jobs and the quality of life are the most important issues for the state's third-largest city.

The other 11 mayors announced their opposition through Freedom Indiana. They included the mayors of South Bend, Hammond, Carmel, Valparaiso, Kokomo, Anderson, Bloomington, West Lafayette and Angola.

Micah Clark, executive director of the pro-amendment American Family Association of Indiana, told The Indianapolis Star he has not asked any mayors to speak out in support of the ban.

"It's like asking my mechanic for advice about my cholesterol," he said. "I think most mayors realize that this is not a city issue. It is an amendment that protects state statutes. These statutes are the purview of the General Assembly."

Clark said it's "amazing how many leaders want to tell the Legislature of their support for homosexual marriage, but they don't want the people to have their say next November, as 36 states have done. The future of marriage belongs in the hands of Hoosier voters, not a few liberal mayors, CEOs or university presidents."

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