Businesses, Groups Target Indiana Gay Marriage Ban
INDIANAPOLIS -- A coalition of businesses and activist groups who launched a push Wednesday to defeat an amendment that would write Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution warned that if it passes it would set the state back and undermine the rights of its gay and lesbian residents.
The push by the new Freedom Indiana coalition heralds an expected battle in Indiana’s next legislative session, not just between same-sex marriage opponents and gay rights advocates, but also big corporations who contend such a ban would be bad for business .
More than 200 people, some holding blue signs reading "Liberty for All Hoosiers," filled downtown Indianapolis’ Artsgarden for the lunch-hour announcement of the new group.
Two of Indiana’s top employers - Indianapolis-based drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co., and Columbus-based engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. - are among its members, along with Indiana Equality Action, Freedom to Marry, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and other activist groups.
Freedom Indiana’s campaign manager is Megan Robertson, a Republican who ran U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s successful 2012 campaign to win the eastern Indiana seat Rep. Mike Pence vacated to run for governor. She said the coalition’s push to defeat the amendment in the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature will be a bipartisan effort.
Robertson said lawmakers would be hearing in the next legislative session from many Republicans who oppose the amendment, which she said would threaten the rights of gay and lesbian residents and harm Indiana’s reputation.
"We want to make sure all Hoosiers enjoy liberty and freedom. It doesn’t matter whether you’re straight or gay, male or female, young or old, rural or urban, Republican, Democrat or Libertarian," Robertson told the gathering.
She said the amendment is unnecessary because Indiana law already defines marriage as between a man and woman.
Indiana lawmakers passed the amendment in 2011, but they must pass it a second time in 2014 in order to put it to voters for a statewide referendum. Indiana voters would have to approve the amendment for it to be added to the state’s constitution.
Indiana is the latest state to consider adding a gay marriage ban into its constitution. North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in May 2012.