New Ind. group pushing to defeat gay marriage ban

INDIANAPOLIS - A coalition of businesses and activist groups has begun its push to defeat an amendment that would write Indiana's same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution.

More than 200 people filled downtown Indianapolis' Artsgarden for Wednesday's announcement of the new group, called Freedom Indiana.

Campaign manager Megan Robertson says passing the amendment would strip gay and lesbian residents of their rights and harm Indiana's reputation. She calls the campaign against the amendment a bipartisan push.

"I view this as talking to people on how this impacts their neighbors, their friends and their families. And I think you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who doesn't have some sort of contact with gay Hoosiers and feels that the amendment goes too far," Robertson said.

The Republican-dominated Legislature passed the amendment in 2011, but the measure must pass a second time and be approved by voters before it's added to the state constitution.

Eli Lilly's director of corporate responsibility, Robert Smith, says passage of the amendment would hamper efforts by the Indianapolis-based drugmaker and other businesses to recruit top-notch employees.

“In that effort, we have to recruit and retain a diverse workforce community of the very best and brightest from around the world and recruit them to Indianapolis. These efforts are made more difficult when we have things like HJR6 contemplated," Smith said.

Opponents argued that the amendment violates religious freedoms and denies some what the law would allow others.

"Right now, the way the law is written, if I performed a same-sex marriage, I would be subject to penalties, even though my denomination and 15 others that publicly have affirmed same-sex marriage and who have performed same-sex marriage," said Rev. Marie Siroky with the United Church of Christ.

The Indiana Legislature and Indiana voters will likely have the final say on the controversial debate next year.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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