Friday, August 23, 2013

Coalition Launched To Fight Indiana Marriage Equality Ban

A bipartisan coalition of individuals and organizations called Freedom Indiana was launched this week to defeat a proposed state constitutional amendment (or min-DOMA) to prohibit marriage equality in the Hoosier state. The Republican-controlled legislature has passed the measure once and needs to do so again in order to get the discriminatory amendment on the November 2014 statewide ballot.

Freedom Indiana campaign to oppose marriage amendment
Bipartisan statewide organization to support the integrity of the Indiana Constitution, promote liberty and fairness for all Hoosiers 
INDIANAPOLIS -- A coalition of Indiana businesses and groups today announced the formation of Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan statewide organization that opposes the amendment that would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and could potentially affect hundreds of rights under current Indiana law. 
Marriage already is strictly defined as between a man and woman under Indiana law.

Freedom Indiana will immediately undertake a grassroots campaign focused on the 2014 legislative session, where Indiana lawmakers can choose either to table or vote down the amendment or send it to voters for a statewide referendum next November. Freedom Indiana is committed to protecting the Indiana Constitution by defeating the amendment should it appear on the ballot.

Coalition partners include Eli Lilly and Company, Cummins, Indiana Equality Action, Freedom to Marry, Gill Action, American Unity Fund, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Human Rights Campaign.

“The goals of Freedom Indiana are aligned with Lilly’s long-held position that HJR6 is bad for business and bad for our state,” said Robert Smith, director of corporate responsibility for Eli Lilly and Company. “As a global biopharmaceutical company that must retain and attract the very best talent in the world, embedding this proposed amendment into Indiana’s constitution will produce difficult and unnecessary challenges. We’re happy to partner with Cummins and several other important organizations to address our common goal of keeping Indiana a welcoming state for everyone.”

"Cummins has a long history of commitment to diversity and treating all people with dignity and respect," stated Marya Rose, Chief Administrative Officer for Cummins.  "We feel strongly that this amendment, which is unnecessary given Indiana law today, will enshrine inequality into the Indiana Constitution and negatively impact the thousands of Cummins employees who live and work in Indiana as well as harm our efforts to retain and attract the best talent here. Diversity is a core company value at Cummins and we are pleased to join the other partners of Freedom Indiana to ensure that we treat all people in Indiana with dignity and respect."

A study earlier this year by students at the IU Maurer School of Law found a significant number of rights and obligations related to marriage that could be permanently denied under the proposed amendment.
"We will make sure lawmakers and voters know that we shouldn't be tinkering with the Indiana Constitution to deny freedoms to certain individuals," said Indiana Equality Action president Chris Paulsen. "We're Hoosiers, and our core values include liberty and fairness. This amendment runs counter to both and may also create a litany of unintended legal consequences."

Freedom Indiana is run by an independent board of directors headed by Indiana Equality Action executive director Rick Sutton. The coalition includes Indiana businesses, community, civil rights and faith leaders, advocates for fairness, former and current lawmakers and Hoosiers who believe we must take a strong stand for freedom if we want our state and its residents to prosper.

The Indiana Freedom campaign is managed by veteran political operative Megan Robertson, who has worked for the Indiana Republican Party, Marion County Republican Party and on two GOP presidential campaigns. She managed Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's successful 2011 campaign.

“Indiana has always been a welcoming community known for our ‘Hoosier Hospitality’,” Robertson said.  “This amendment directly contradicts the reputation that has helped us recruit jobs and economic investment for our state.  The Freedom Indiana campaign brings together those who have an interest in preserving our freedoms and moving our state forward regardless of political affiliation.”
The campaign currently is headquartered in Indianapolis with plans to establish regional headquarters in the coming months. 

Freedom Indiana is a bipartisan statewide organization that champions liberty for all Hoosiers. The organization is opposed to an amendment that would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and could potentially affect hundreds of rights related to marriage under current Indiana law. Freedom Indiana launched in August 2013.

If the good guys can stop an anti-gay marriage amendment in Indiana that would probably mean the demise of the anti-gay marriage movement and would signal that all future action in this area would most likely be positive, which would be somewhat of a surprise and perhaps increase momentum towards the day when marriage equality is a nationwide reality.

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