RICH JAMES: Indiana GOP leaders look to be on losing side

2013-11-10T00:00:00Z 2013-11-12T22:00:01Z RICH JAMES: Indiana GOP leaders look to be on losing sideBy Rich James nwitimes.com
November 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I drove from Lake County into Porter County the other day.

The people all pretty much seemed the same.

I saw people going about their daily business of making a living, going to school or just relaxing.

Then I went into LaPorte County, which pretty much mirrored Lake and Porter.

I turned around and headed back west and crossed into Illinois, where the people – believe it or not – were just like the ones I had seen in Indiana.

Yeah, two states with similar people, but heading in opposite directions.

There is one dramatic difference on each side of that invisible state line today.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he will sign a bill approving same-sex marriage on Nov. 20.

In Indiana, the Republican-controlled Legislature is poised to approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, setting up a statewide referendum next November.

Why is there such a diverse difference between two adjacent states filled with people basically looking for the same things out of life?

While Illinois is joining a growing trend in support of same-sex marriage, I wondered why Indiana is going in the opposite direction. Or is it?

While Gov. Mike Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long are standing firm in backing the same-sex marriage ban, the opposition is growing.

Two of the state’s largest private sector employers – Eli Lilly and Cummins – have come out opposed to the ban. Indiana University, Wabash College and DePauw University have joined the opposition. Indiana Democrats are opposed, and the state Libertarian Party is now on board.

Word is that in the face of this mounting opposition, some Republican legislators are starting to squirm, hoping this whole thing will go away. And why not?

Why should their effort to toe the line drawn by GOP leadership put the state in a bad light and throw up a roadblock when it comes to economic development?

Why should Indiana miss out on some of the best and brightest and watch them take up residence in Illinois?

State Libertarian Party Chairman Dan Drexler put it best, saying, “Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.”

So why don’t Pence, Bosma and Long pull the plug on this ill-advised effort to tell gays and lesbians they aren’t welcome in Indiana?

Why don’t they back away before the two sides throw away millions of dollars on a campaign that should never be fought?

Why don’t Pence, Bosma and Long say they have read the mood of the people and that the push for the ban will be dropped? That would be honorable. But lose a statewide referendum on an issue of this importance, and you might as well wear a scarlet letter.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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