Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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January 29, 2014

Some Republicans distancing GOP from marriage amendment

(Continued)

Manning shies away from voicing an opinion on gay marriage. Instead, he said he supports the position of some GOP leaders in the Statehouse who want to let the amendment go to voters in November for them to decide.

Given his ‘druthers, the resolution would just go away. As the state’s youngest county party chairman, Manning has made it his mission to attract more young people to the party.

“It doesn’t make it any easier,” he said of the amendment.

A year ago, the state Republican Party dropped its support for the gay marriage ban from its platform, though Republicans nationally still support “traditional marriage” in their platform. Dunn said the decision reflected polling and a growing awareness that the amendment was polarizing among Republicans whose opinions on the issue were evolving.

Dunn is a member of the state Republican Central Committee, which helps shape the agenda for state and federal legislators. Last fall, the committee overwhelming refused to endorse the gay marriage ban during a private meeting, Dunn said.

Still, it was given legs by Republican legislators, who’ve made it a priority and once staged a walkout when the House’s then-Democratic leaders refused to call the bill.

Dunn said social conservatives in the Legislature have trumped the concerns of more moderate Republicans who want to focus on fiscal issues.

For the attention the measure is getting, it doesn’t appear to rank high on the list of Hoosiers’ priorities. The annual Hoosier Survey, conducted by Ball State University, reported that Indiana residents want the 2014 legislature to focus on creating jobs, improving schools and expanding access to health care. Gay marriage didn’t make the list.

“On the Ball State campus, students are talking about HJR-3,” said Ball State professor Joe Losco, who oversees the poll. “But when I’m in a grocery store in Muncie, I don’t hear anyone talking about it. People there are much more likely to tell me they’re retiring early because they can’t find a job.”

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