Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

January 23, 2014

Business leaders say marriage equality critical

INDIANAPOLIS - With a ban on same-sex marriage once again on the table at the Statehouse, some Indiana business leaders are speaking out.

Cummins, Eli Lilly and Co. and some local chambers of commerce are opposing HJR 3, which would put a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex unions on the November ballot. Same-sex marriage now is legal in 18 states, and Greg Kueterman, director of corporate communications for Eli Lilly, said bucking that trend would only drive top talent away from Indiana.

“We have great companies with great jobs, and we need great people to fill them,” he said. “We don’t need to tell people they need not apply, or they should consider other states because they may be more welcoming.”

Jennifer Wagner, communications director for Freedom Indiana, said having business leaders join the tens of thousands working to overturn the measure is helping to make the argument that it isn’t only about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers and their families but also about the future of the state and the economy.

“That’s a message that lawmakers understand because one of their top priorities that they have named is jobs and the economy,” she said. “These companies are saying, ‘Look, this is going to hurt us.’ They’ve stopped and taken notice of that.”

Kueterman said legislation such as HJR 3 can be expensive and divisive as well as hurting the state’s business climate. He pointed to a Pew Research poll last year that found two-thirds of “millennials” are in favor of same-sex marriage.

“That’s our future,” he said. “Those are the people that we’re going to be recruiting and trying to hire in the coming years. So, it only makes sense to have Indiana be perceived as a very welcoming state, which we really are.”

A couple dozen companies as well as universities and other organizations are voicing opposition to the amendment. Every year since 2004, the Indiana Legislature has proposed or voted on a constitutional amendment to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Gov. Mike Pence has been in support of HJR 3, and has said he wants to resolve the issue this year.

Text of the legislation is online at openstates.org.

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