Will Illinois gay marriage law impact Indiana?

Published: .
Updated: .

This week Illinois legalized gay marriage, joining 14 other states and the District of Columbia. It comes as the battle heats up over a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Indiana.

Curt Smith with the Indiana Family Institute, which supports the amendment, said he doesn't think the new law in Illinois will have any impact on Indiana.

"We haven't taken any cues from Illinois since the Civil War," Smith said.

But opponents of the ban believe it raises the stakes even higher.

James Schellinger, Chairman of CSO Architects in Indianapolis said, "It shows we're a less tolerant state...and I think when neighboring states we compete so heavily with begin to advance beyond and evolve, it's going to make us less competitive with those states."

Schellinger likens the battle over gay marriage to the battle over right-to-work.

He said supporters said, "It was good for the economy and neighboring states have a right to work law, so that same logic should be the same logic that opposes this amendment."

Megan Robertson with Freedom Indiana, an organization formed to fight the ban, said she's had little difficulty getting the city's big players on board. The include Cummins, Eli Lilly, Emmis Communications and the Indy Chamber.

She said of Illinois, "It just highlights Indiana is going in the wrong direction. The other states are moving toward equality and we're putting up a constitutional amendment. We'll probably be one of the last states that has this discussion and it reflects poorly on us."

Some also worry about the impact on the hospitality industry, which drives downtown Indianapolis. According to Visit Indy, Chicago is one of the top five cities Indianapolis competes with four conventions, trade shows and other events, like the Big 10 tournaments.

While Visit Indy's Chris Gahl declined to comment on the proposed ban, "because we haven't discussed it with our executive board," he did say it could come up at their meeting in December.

Stan Jacobs, Sales Manager for the Omni Severin Indianapolis, said well over half of the hotel's business is from conventions.

"I think any city has to be conscious of that fact that anytime you create a wall or barrier to keep people from having an event, it might have some impact (on business)," he said.

Robertson said Freedom Indiana is adding staff to talk to lawmakers and constituents. She expects several more high-profile businesses to join the effort in the weeks ahead.

Micah Clark with the American Family Association of Indiana disagrees with the economic argument against the amendment.

"If you look at the states doing well right now, the top four or five have marriage amendments...North Carolina passed a marriage amendment and added 42,699 jobs within the next year after that. So a marriage amendment does not hurt job creation," Clark said.

Eyewitness News also reached out to House Speaker Brian Bosma. Bosma said while he wasn't talking about the issue, he was receiving up to 20 inquiries a day on it.

"It will be dealt like any other measure, if it's introduced," he said.