INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana University has joined the statewide coalition organized to defeat a pending constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.
IU President Michael McRobbie announced Monday that the 110,000-student school, including IU Northwest in Gary, is teaming up with Freedom Indiana to stop the amendment, House Joint Resolution 6.
"Equality, compassion and respect for individuals have long been the bedrock of Indiana University's educational mission, and the lack of tolerance implicit in HJR6 runs counters to IU's deeply held values," McRobbie said. "We are proud to join the Freedom Indiana coalition and, in doing so, stand with some of Indiana's most respected employers and organizations on the side of fairness."
Eli Lilly and Co., the Indianapolis drug maker, and Columbus engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc., helped organize Freedom Indiana, which is led by Portage native Megan Robertson, a veteran of several Republican congressional campaigns.
They believe putting Indiana's existing ban on gay marriage and a new prohibition on civil unions into the state constitution will discourage companies from locating in the state and reduce Indiana's economic competitiveness -- a sentiment McRobbie shares.
"HJR6 sends a powerfully negative message of Indiana as a place to live and work that is not welcoming to people of all backgrounds and beliefs," McRobbie said. "As a major employer in the state, IU competes with universities and companies around the world for the very best talent, and HJR6 would needlessly complicate our efforts to attract employees to our campuses around the state."
The leading supporters of the amendment -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence; House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis; and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne -- have remained mum as a growing number of Hoosier businesses and institutions, including the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, have come out against it.
The amendment was previously approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2011. If a majority of lawmakers in both the House and Senate approve it again next year, the amendment will be on the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot for Hoosier voters to have the final say on whether it should be added to the state constitution.