Freedom Indiana deserves its Cultural Vision Award not just for its success in preventing a hateful referendum battle during this falls election.
The issue advocacy campaign launched when it became clear that Hoosier lawmakers intended to adopt a hetero-limited definition of marriage into the state constitution and mandate that all other unions be invalid. Directed by veteran G.O.P. campaign manager Megan Robertson with former Indiana Democratic Party official Peter Hanscom acting as deputy manager, the campaign drew grassroots support and donations from both sides of the aisle. With Jennifer Wagner, now Congressman André Carsons communications director, handling communications, the Freedom Indiana team indeed represented a bi-partisan brain trust of local political talent.
During a May 29 chat with NUVO at OReillys Pub, Robertson said she worried about committing political suicide as she resigned herself to accepting the employment offer from local corporate leaders — including representatives from Eli Lilly & Co. and Cummins, Inc. — who organized Freedom Indiana to lead the charge against HJR-3.
I often compared it to jumping off a cliff and not knowing whether my parachute would open, Robertson said.
But the Anderson University grad, who has worked in Republican politics since 2002, felt that, after a long journey, the Indiana political environment was finally poised to reject homophobia.
The 2014 legislative session threw some curve balls, including an unprecedented end-run around typical House procedure when leadership moved the resolution away from a committee that would not advance HJR 3 to a committee that would. But with a grassroots army that would show up to canvass the Statehouse halls on all nine days the legislature took action on the matter — plus 758,434 phone calls, 361,279 emails and 4,263 registered volunteers — Freedom Indiana helped to inspire lawmakers to send the resolution back to the beginning of the legislative process — a position from which HJR 3 opponents hope that it never again advances.
It will probably always be the most amazing experience — being a part of that campaign, having so many people across the state join together on this issue, Robertson said.