Hundreds rally against proposed gay marriage ban


Hundreds of people against a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage rallied Monday night in downtown Indianapolis.

The rally packed the Indianapolis Artsgarden with families and people from the business community. Eric and Ben Lekberg were there, along with their three-year-old son, Josh. The future of marriage in Indiana is personal for them.

"Our family is as valuable as any other family in Indiana," Eric said.

The Hoosier couple got married in Canada seven years ago. Now, they're fighting for acceptance here at home.

"No one can define family for us," Ben said. "We're not asking for people's judgement, we're just asking for acceptance of our family like everybody else's."

Opponents to the proposed gay marriage ban call it not only discriminatory, but also an economic game changer that would make it difficult to recruit and retain workers.

Rob Smith, Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility for Eli Lilly, attended the rally. His company is against the proposed ban.

"This is something that Eli Lilly and company thinks is not a good for our business, for business broadly and the state of Indiana," Smith said.

"This state will not only lose me, but also lose many of the most talented and creative members of my generation, both gay and straight," DePauw student Ryan Pranger told the crowd.

But at the statehouse, supporters of the amendment argued other states with similar bans have experienced job growth. They'd like to see voters decide this issue in a referendum.

"The state of Indiana and certainly the people of Indiana, if you give us the right to vote, will choose a culture of marriage," Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, told lawmakers Monday.

And when it comes to family, supporters say it's personal for them, too.

"I am here because of the attack on the family and Christian values. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman and I think as a Christian I have been quiet for too long," said Carolyn Rhoten, a grandmother from Lebanon.

On both sides, the voices are getting louder on the debate over marriage and who should define it in Indiana.

"I don't feel my value as a citizen and as a man and as a person in a relationship should be voted on," Ben Lekberg said. "I think it's demeaning. How would any other family like their relationship put up to a vote to decide whether it's worthy or not?"

After the Freedom Indiana rally, many in attendance went to a church phone bank to put in calls to lawmakers, urging them to vote "no" on the amendment.