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Indiana may be voting on a ban on Marriage Equality this coming November, because having a law against it isn't enough for Hoosier bigots. Freedom Indiana is preparing to stop this, by engaging Republicans as well as Democrats to vote against the bill, HJR 3, in the Indiana House, and by building a true grassroots campaign against the bill and the ban.

See also Joan McCarter on this issue yesterday: Indiana Republican lawmaker considering extreme measures to fight equality

That Indiana lawmaker is House Speaker Brian Bosma. He is considering throwing Republicans off the House committee that has held hearings and is to vote on the proposed Constitutional amendment for having the temerity to vote counter to his wishes, in spite of an earlier vow not to interfere in the process.

You can help, because it turns out that Indiana has evolved on the issue, just like the rest of the country. If you are in Indiana, start here.

Tell Speaker Bosma: Let the committee decide on HJR-3

Even if you are not, you can spread the word. There is no reason to let Hoosiers be the last in the country to make this mistake. You can find out more below the Orange Sigil of Ick.

Update: HJR 3, the anti-Marriage Equality amendment, was yanked from the Judiciary Committee and given to Rep. Milo Smith and the Elections Committee. Smith is my representative here in Columbus, Indiana. He is known as a fierce opponent of Marriage Equality.

I attended a meeting of the Democratic Ladies of Bartholomew County in Columbus, Indiana, yesterday, where Peter Hanscom, Deputy Campaign Manager of Freedom Indiana, was invited to speak about the campaign against HJR 3. The campaign is decently funded by companies such as Eli Lilly and Cummins, and by small donors, and is well organized, with both Democratic and Republican support. FI has campaigns with locals managing them throughout the state organizing local events.

FI has been making hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and has gotten thousands of Hoosiers to call their legislators. This is in sharp contrast with the opposition, which is Astroturfing phone calls from across the country, with no effort at targeting legislative districts. For example,

NOM blog: Action Alert: Fight for Marriage Amendment in Indiana!

Our testimony at the hearing just held was in large part from Hoosier couples, and their friends, families, and employers, explaining how the anti-equality law and proposed amendment affect them directly, while the opposition brought in bigots from out of state who repeated many of the usual lies about pseudo-scientific studies of gay families, pseudo-economics, and the like.

Also two "former" lesbians from the Pray Away the Gay crowd at Exodus International.

Here is the most breathtaking lie on marriage I have encountered anywhere.

Gov. Pence: States with Marriage Amendments Have Fastest Growing Economies

Yes, sure, Mike, and we don't need Medicaid expansion or union rights or voting rights or much of anything else to have a great economy, do we? Certainly not jobs or a social safety net.

Defense in depth against HJR 3 is planned, first in the House Judiciary Committee; then on the floor of the House; then in the Senate; then at the ballot box.

Polling from the Bowen Center (PDF) at Ball State University shows that

Hoosiers are evenly divided (45%) on whether same sex couples should be allowed to marry while a majority (55%) supports civil unions. Fifty four percent oppose a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in Indiana.

A ban on marriage that would allow civil unions might have come close to passing in a low-turnout midterm election, but Republican overreach is the name of the game.

Our committee strategy is in part to embarrass the Republicans, if such a thing is possible, or rather to get those who see gay-bashing as a losing issue to come out of the political closet. Then on the floor, there will be attempts to amend the bill. There is a companion bill, HB 1153, purporting to explain the legislative intent, as though a bill could control the meaning of the Constitution, rather than the other way around.

The general assembly intends and establishes that the purpose of the marriage amendment is to restrict the state, through legislative, executive, or judicial action, from creating or recognizing a legal status between unmarried individuals equivalent or substantially similar to marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman. The first sentence of the marriage amendment prohibits the recognition of marriage between persons  other than one (1) man and one (1) woman. The second sentence of the marriage amendment prohibits the state from circumventing the mandate of the first sentence by creating or recognizing a legal status equivalent or substantially similar to marriage by a different name.
So no civil unions or anything else of that kind. Note that proponents have lost the first battle before it was joined, because Indiana has to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state in the Indiana National Guard. It was erroneously reported last year that Indiana was refusing to do so. It actually was in the process of complying, although with much less alacrity than some other states, when some other states were refusing to comply in any way.

HB 1153 explicitly denies any intention of interfering with private sector employment benefits, local ordinances, powers of attorney, wills, trusts, contracts, domestic violence protections, or legislation affecting unmarried persons. As though that were possible under a blanket ban.

So it is proposed to put the clarifications into the amendment, thus restarting the clock on a new bill, which would have to pass in two successive legislative sessions before going to the voters. That would take us at least to 2015, when everything may have changed. Also, any amendment would likely require a conference committee to reconcile House and Senate versions of the bill, at which point anything might happen, or the whole project might quietly die.

There does not seem to be any hope of getting the Senate to vote down its version of HJR 3 outright, but Senate hearings will provide more opportunities for us to get the word out, and more hypocrisy and Astroturfing for us to expose.

We do not want to go to the effort and expense of a public vote if we can prevent it, but we are prepared with a really good GOTV bank of phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and street addresses if it comes to that. And if it comes to that, we will take the opportunity to target the more vulnerable of the opponents of Marriage Equality in the legislature, as happened in Minnesota. Democrats there retook control. That would be much harder here, but getting closer also counts for something.

I have volunteered to be part of the Freedom Indiana project in Columbus, where I live.

Originally posted to Indianapolis Kossacks on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 11:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality and Community Spotlight.

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