Indiana gay marriage debate begins--but first vote delayed

There was plenty of talk--but no action today at the Indiana Statehouse on a resolution dealing with same sex marriage in Indiana.

For more than three hours, state lawmakers on the Indiana House Judiciary Committee heard from supporters and opponents of House Joint Resolution 3.

“The state’s interest in marriage is not that it cares about my love life, or your love life, or anyone’s love life just for the sake of romance,” said Ryan Anderson, a doctoral student at the University of Notre Dame. “The state’s interest in marriage is ensuring that those kids have fathers who are involved in their lives.

Anderson quoted President Obama who said that children who grow up with a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crimes, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

“What we’ve seen in the past 50 years since the war on poverty began is that the family has collapsed,” said Anderson. “More than 50 percent of Hispanic children are born outside of wedlock; more than 70 percent of African Americans are born outside of wedlock.”

Curt Smith with the Indiana Family Institute also argued in favor of HJR 3. “If we could just go back to 1970 in terms of family composition we would eliminate 85 percent of the family poverty in Indiana. We just need to create a culture of marriage, a lot of talk today about a culture of intolerance. I don’t think that’s the right interpretation.”

HJR 3 proposes setting up a voter referendum for Nov. 4, 2014 to let voters decide if Indiana’s constitution should define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“It actually matters little how voters vote on this referendum. The damage to Indiana and our competitiveness will be done before November hits,” said Stephen Fry with Eli lily, a company that employs about 11,000 Hoosiers. Fry and others warned of the unintended and unfavorable economic consequences associated with HJR 3. “Recently I was told by two lesbian employees at Lily both of whom have school age children that they will leave Indiana, they will leave Indiana if this legislation is passed, this amendment, without waiting to see if it’s adopted by voters. Why? Because they don’t want their children to live through what will certainly be a major public campaign that follows. This illustrates a point I’ve made several times in reply to people who say ‘what is the harm of letting voters decide?’

A representative of Cummins Engine also warned lawmakers that embracing the resolution would be the same as kissing some jobs goodbye. “Now Indiana has been a very good place for Cummins to do business. We have more than 8,000 jobs located across the state. Many of these jobs could be located anywhere. Our company has chosen Indiana because of our commitment to the community and our ability to thrive here,” said Marya Rose. “We will be reluctant to continue to add jobs in Indiana if our state is a less welcoming and inclusive place for all of our employees.”
“When issues such as this get put to a majority vote, we’re allowing individuals to dictate to others how we can live our personal lives,” said Kody Tinnel of Fort Wayne. “Who am I to decide what family structures or what personal agreements should be most appropriate for my friends and neighbors.”

Committee members heard more than three hours of testimony today but did not vote on the measure. The committee chairman said he would schedule the vote for a later date.

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