(AP) — 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
the bans say placing them in state constitutions makes it harder for future
lawmakers to undo laws against same-sex marriages. But opponents argue such
bans paint states as unfriendly places to do business.
director of corporate responsibility, Robert Smith, said passage of the
amendment would hamper efforts by businesses in the competitive life
sciences industry to recruit "the very best and brightest" employees from
around the world.
"We want Indiana
to be an attractive place to live and a wonderful place to do business. And
we want those outside our state to view Indiana in the same way," Smith
One supporter of
the constitutional amendment said there's no evidence a same-sex marriage
amendment would harm Indiana corporations.
executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said
same-sex marriage supporters use that as "a scare tactic" to shift the
spotlight away for what he called the "real issue" of supporting traditional
"They attempt to
pit economic fears against the needs of children and society provided by
natural marriage," Clark said in an email.
Indiana's supporters at Wednesday announcement was Jacob Balash, a
36-year-old from the southern Indiana city of Spencer who brought along he
and his husband's 8-month-old son, Truman.
Balash said he
and his husband, Jonathan Balash, married in New York City two years ago
after 10 years together, but they worry that if Indiana's amendment passes
it could threaten he and Truman's medical benefits through Jonathan's
would also cast Indiana in a very unflattering light, he said.
"It will make
the state seem more backward, less advanced and we already have that
stereotype. It will help cement that in people's minds," Balash said.