Advocates prep for Indiana gay marriage battle

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Get ready for another battle over same sex marriage in Indiana, and look for it to be a big fight. 

State lawmakers will take up the proposal for a constitutional ban on same sex marriage in January, and a statewide referendum on the ban is likely in 2014.  It could become the toughest referendum fight in recent memory.

Support for same sex marriage is growing across the country and that's why supporters of gay marriage produced a study done by the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.  It finds that a ban would create conflicts of interest with 614 existing Indiana laws.  "We now have 614 reasons to show you that your laws could be affected," said Rick Sutton of Indiana Equality Action.  "Pick one, pick any one.  Does it concern you?"

It's just one of the factual arguments that will be presented to lawmakers.  Don Sherfick of Indiana Equality Action makes another.  "Clearly the amendment would keep not only same sex marriage but also civil unions and domestic partnership legislation out of the hands of Hoosier lawmakers," he said.

But the proposed ban on gay marriage won 70 votes in the Indiana House in 2011, and there is little reason to believe that a 2013 vote will have a different outcome now that Republicans have won super majorities in both Houses of the General Assembly.

That sets the stage for a statewide referendum and the supporters of same sex marriage say they already have a campaign plan in place. "I believe we'd see a large scale effort," said Sutton, "not unlike a statewide political campaign."

The backdrop for this debate is the November election, where three states voted to legalize gay marriage and a referendum on a constitutional ban failed in Minnesota.  The supporters of gay marriage say that if Indiana goes the other direction, it will make it more difficult for employers to attract young people from other states. 

They hope to make this an economic development issue.

Representative Eric Turner, the author of the constitutional ban, declined an interview request.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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