INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he has been hearing
from companies that fear that a measure that would put Indiana’s ban on
same-sex marriage into the state constitution might also prevent firms from
offering benefits to gay couples.
The measure was approved by lawmakers last year and could come up for a vote
again next year. If approved twice, it would go before voters in 2014.
The language in the constitutional ban would go further than barring
marriage. It would bar “a legal status identical or substantially similar to
that of marriage for unmarried individuals,” potentially prohibiting
benefits for gay couples typically associated with marriage.
Daniels says he heard from companies on the issue as recently as Wednesday
morning but gave little specifics. Daniels has never taken a position on the
issue and declined Wednesday to say whether he supports the ban.
“They wouldn’t want their ability to offer benefits and that sort of thing
limited. They think it’s fair. They think it’s important at least in case of
some of their employees,” he said.
Indiana businesses, including Eli Lilly and Cummins, testified against the
ban in 2011, arguing it could hurt their efforts to lure talented workers to
Indiana. Daniels said Wednesday he understood that argument, but also
pointed out that Indiana would join other states that banned gay marriage in
Daniels, who is leaving office, did not have to sign the ban the first time
lawmakers approved it because constitutional amendments do not require the
governor’s signature. Asked for his own thoughts on gay marriage, he
declined to say, noting he did not want to influence lawmakers and incoming
Gov.-elect Mike Pence on the issue.
Despite a likely easy road to passage a second time in the Legislature, it
remains unclear if the measure would be pushed through during next year’s
session or in 2014. And action from the U.S. Supreme Court, which announced
last week it would take up a pair of cases on the broader issues, could make
any action in the states moot.
Opponents of the ban who met with Pence’s transition team say they were told
pushing the proposal would not be a “priority” for the new governor. And the
lead House sponsor of the measure in 2011, state Rep. Eric Turner, Cicero
Republican, said earlier this month he was not sure if or when he would
introduce the measure for its second approval.