Butler University joins effort to oppose same-sex marriage ban

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Butler University has announced it's joining the statewide effort to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Indiana University, Wabash College, DePauw University and Ball State University have also joined Freedom Indiana, a coalition of universities, businesses and other entities which oppose the amendment.

"Butler University is an institution where all people are welcome and valued, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity; a culture of acceptance and inclusivity that is as old as the University itself," said Butler President James M. Danko.

Butler was the first school in Indiana and third in the United States to enroll women as students, was among the first colleges in the nation to enroll African Americans, and was the second U.S. school to name a female professor to its faculty.

Danko said that HJR-6 would make it more difficult for Butler-and all Indiana employers-to compete for diverse and talented faculty, staff, and students. The proposed amendment would threaten to reverse many of the recent gains made by Indianapolis and the state, and would place Indiana's economic future at risk.

Businesses that have joined Freedom Indiana include Eli Lilly, Cummins and several others. Mayor Greg Ballard has also voiced his opposition to the amendment, and the Indianapolis City-County Council passed a resolution opposing it.

The amendment, known as House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR-6), could go before voters in November 2014 if the Republican-led Indiana legislature chooses to pursue the issue. With opposition growing, it's unclear if that will happen.

On Thursday, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma named a member of his Republican caucus leadership team to run a powerful committee that may shape the fate of the amendment.

Bosma named Rep. Tom Dermody of LaPorte to chair the House Public Policy Committee. Dermody, the Republic assistant House floor leader, replaces Rep. Bill Davis of Portland, who resigned his seat last month.

The same-sex marriage constitutional amendment went through the House Judiciary Committee in 2011, but in other years has gone to the Public Policy Committee. Dermody voted for the amendment in 2011 but isn't saying how he'll vote during the upcoming session or how he'll handle the amendment if it lands in his committee.

If the Legislature approves the amendment, it then goes before voters.