Indy Chamber joins effort to oppose same-sex marriage ban


One of the state's largest business groups has joined the fight against a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The Indy Chamber says it would be bad for business and the state's image. They say the battle alone would be costly, divisive and it would put Indiana in a negative spotlight.

John Thompson owns CMID, an engineering firm, and three other Indianapolis-based companies. He hires employees and serves customers from across the country. As a business leader and a member of the Indy Chamber, he strongly opposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

"This is about business, the economy, growth and development. It's about attracting talent, the best and the brightest, so we can perform and compete globally," said Thompson.

The Indy Chamber is the latest to join Freedom Indiana, a coalition that formed in August to fight the proposed amendment. Other heavyweights include Eli Lilly and Cummins.

"Really, this is a common sense business decision," said Indy Chamber President Michael Huber, who added that it wasn't a tough one.

"Through all the conversation going back several weeks, there was not any dissent voiced publicly," he said.

As gay marriage becomes legal in more states, most recently in New Jersey, Indiana is the only one considering further restrictions. Huber says the chamber will do more than simply speak out against the ban.

"It's too early to know what our role is going to be in terms of fundraising and things like that, but we will be using our platform to do advocacy and try to get other business owners and groups to see a constitutional amendment is just not necessary and not good for business," said Huber.

Thompson says the goal isn't defeating the amendment but stopping it before it goes to voters.

"It would gain national exposure and the exposure would be all negative. It would all be about Indiana closing its doors and moving backwards instead of forwards," said Thompson.

About the amendment

The Chamber announced Tuesday its plans to join a statewide effort to oppose the amendment, known as HJR-6.

The amendment would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and would remove existing protections under law for same-sex and unmarried couples and families.

The Chamber has concerns about the legal ramifications of the amendment, saying that
"no one has been able to clearly define what effects the amendment would have on existing marriages, employer-provided family benefits, human rights ordinances, legal contracts and other protections for all unmarried couples."

Many opponents, including the Chamber, argue that the amendment would duplicate existing Indiana law, which already defines marriage between one man and one woman. The Chamber calls it "a distraction from building momentum in the state legislature to address economic and workforce development challenges in the Indianapolis region and across the state."

To view the complete position statement click here