A year ago I was in the midst of an intense race for state representative in the district covering Downtown Indianapolis. After going door-to-door and speaking with thousands of people, I'm well versed in the issues that matter to voting Hoosiers. I felt that the legislative priorities of the House Republican Caucus moving into 2013 lined up with the concerns I heard the most from voters - primarily issues relating to jobs and the economy.
Never were we given marching orders when it came to the issue of gay marriage. Social issues were not a priority and were to be avoided. It is with great disappointment that I see plans for the 2014 General Assembly include a second vote on the proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution banning same-sex marriages.
Last Wednesday at noon, I wove my way through a crowd of 250 other marriage equality supporters in the Artsgarden Downtown for the kickoff of Freedom Indiana
- a multi-partisan organization formed to defeat the ban (House Joint Resolution 6
) in the 2014 legislature and, if necessary, at the ballot box if voters are asked to decide the issue in a statewide referendum.
Speakers at the Freedom Indiana launch stressed that a ban is not only unnecessary (same-sex marriage is already illegal in Indiana without tinkering with the constitution), but would harm our state's image among employers and prospective top talent we are trying to recruit to relocate here from places that do not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. For every Democrat present at the event, there was a Republican. High-ranking GOP folks from the mayor's office and the state stood with their Democrat opponents and operatives from past campaigns to join in a fight that will put Indiana in the national spotlight for better or for worse.
I've known Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson for years. She has managed campaigns for Republicans all over the state at every level. Indy voters know her from running Mayor Greg Ballard's re-election campaign. Robertson is one of the best campaign staffers in the state and has assembled a coalition of local and national organizations and premier Indiana companies to persuade Republican and Democrat legislators who voted in favor of the resolution in 2011 to reconsider in 2014.
To those state representatives and senators who feel they should vote for the ban and punt the issue to voters:
Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana sees no evidence that a same-sex marriage amendment would harm Indiana corporations, yet the day after announcing a project that will bring 500 new jobs to Indiana, Columbus-based Cummins stood with Freedom Indiana indicating the opposite. It's not rocket science to see that top talent will go elsewhere if a constitutional gay marriage ban is the welcome mat Indiana puts out for LGBT professionals and their families. Pro-amendment legislators will be going head-to-head with the state's largest employers on this issue. Furthermore, Robertson and others estimate that a referendum campaign will cost $20 million-$30 million - the equivalent of a competitive Indiana governor's race.
My friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
laid out the evolving opposition to an amendment in his June 27, 2013, column on NUVO.net
. To paraphrase: In March of 2011, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll found 47 percent of Hoosier voters opposed a gay marriage ban with just 43 percent in favor. A year later, a Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground poll showed less than 50 percent of Hoosiers would support a ban. Eight months after that, a Bowen Center/WISH-TV poll showed opposition to a ban at 54 percent with only 38 percent in favor. If I were a legislator, I would be wary of the re-election ramifications of favoring an ever-less-popular amendment. I'd also keep in mind that the first time the legislature passed the resolution, more voters opposed the measure than supported it.
Finally, take a look at our Midwestern counterparts in Minnesota. Last year, that state's legislators passed a ban and sent it to voters who not only voted it down, but also helped establish the base and climate that led Minnesota to become the 12th state to legalize gay marriage and completely shifted the balance of power in the statehouse.
Maybe you should just let the amendment die.
- - -
For more information on Freedom information, visit:
Dear State Legislators who Support an Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage,