Although Indiana lawmakers could vote in 2014 to put a proposed state amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage and any similar recognition, such as civil unions, on the fall 2014 ballot, they will do so with the opposition of one of the state's largest business groups.
The Indy Chamber, representing nearly 3,000 businesses in the central Indiana area, announced Tuesday that it will oppose HJR-6, the joint resolution that would place the proposed marriage amendment on the ballot. Approved by lawmakers once in 2011, it must be approved a second time before it will be put to the voters.
"The proposed marriage amendment does nothing to help show the nation that Indiana is a place that welcomes all, not just some, and we must be mindful of how actions such as this will impact our competitiveness on a national and global level," John Thompson, chair of the Indy Chamber board of directors, said in a news release.
According to the release from the Indy Chamber, the position against HJR-6 was drafted at the direction of Indy Chamber council and executive committee leadership and received executive committee support today. In the full statement on the proposed measure, the Indy Chamber announced:
In the past the Indy Chamber has not prioritized involvement in deliberations surrounding HJR-6 and similar marriage amendment proposals. Having consulted with members of its policy councils and committees and taking stock of the regional economic climate, the Indy Chamber has concluded opposing HJR-6 in its current form is in the best interests of the Indianapolis business community and workforce.
As many states consider extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, Indiana is one of the only states considering further restricting such rights.
Beyond simply issuing a statement, the Indy Chamber expressed plans to be heavily involved in the campaign, helmed by the Freedom Indiana coalition, to oppose the 2014 effort to get the amendment on the ballot.
In its position statement, the Indy Chamber described its plans:
The Indy Chamber is committed to maintaining Indianapolis' status as the best place to live, work and conduct business. HJR-6 is duplicative of current statute and serves as a distraction from building momentum in the state legislature to address economic and workforce development challenges in the Indianapolis region and across the state. As the Indy Chamber believes the proposed amendment would inhibit employers' efforts to attract an emerging generation of talent, it will work in tandem with the Freedom Indiana coalition to stridently oppose HJR-6 and advocate for its defeat in the 2014 legislative session and any potential subsequent ballot referendum.
Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson praised the support from the business group.
"The Indy Chamber's decision to oppose HJR-6 comes down to Hoosier common sense: They know it's bad for business and will hurt our ability to attract new jobs and talent to Indiana," she said in a statement.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the statewide business group, thus far has remained neutral on the measure.
"We have members on both sides of the issue, so we have not adopted a position either in favor of or opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment," Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed.