Building the Campaign to Fight an Anti-Freedom Amendment in Indiana

December 17, 2013

With all the excitement and energy around recent marriage equality wins, it can be easy to forget that despite our monumental progress on marriage, LGBT people are still under attack in many places.

In Indiana, lawmakers will soon gavel in the 2014 legislative session. They are expected to once again consider HJR-6, an amendment to the state’s Constitution banning marriage and any kind of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Lawmakers already passed this bill once, but they must pass it again before it can go to the ballot for a vote of all Hoosiers.

Federation member Indiana Equality Action (IEA) has joined forces with Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, the American Unity Fund, Gill Action and the ACLU to form Freedom Indiana, the grassroots campaign to stop the bill from passing in 2014.

Back in October, I traveled to the Hoosier State to work with Freedom Indiana’s field team as they prepared to mount a strong statewide organizing campaign focused on showing lawmakers that this anti-freedom amendment is unnecessary, hurtful and bad for business.

I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with the field team as we traveled to communities across Indiana plugging volunteers into the campaign. From packed phone banks at a local church and on campuses, I was reminded of the importance of working in faith communities and engaging students. 

From campaign headquarters in Indianapolis, I provided some leadership development and coaching to ensure the team was implementing a strong organizing program that could grow to scale as the campaign approached the legislative session.

While there, I met with Rick Sutton, Director of IEA, who explained the real dangers of HJR-6, the proposed Constitutional amendment. HJR-6 would unnecessarily duplicate existing law and permanently ban all protections for same-sex couples and their families. According to Rick, Hoosiers believe in ensuring liberty -- not taking it away. That’s why this divisive and harmful attempt to alter Indiana’s Constitution cannot and should not move forward.

A lot has changed in Indiana since the last time the legislature took up the issue. We’ve seen marriage wins in many more states, and polling in Indiana now shows that 64% of Hoosiers oppose this amendment. Alongside the massive grassroots organizing effort that is taking place in communities across the state, the climate has shifted in Indiana in a big way.

And even more has changed since my visit in October.

The impressive outreach effort has helped thousands of voters contact their representatives, and more support for the Freedom Indiana is emerging everyday. The campaign has garnered the endorsement of some of the state’s largest employers (Cummins and Eli Lilly & Co), six major universities and more than a dozen mayors.

With fewer than 30 days left before the start of the session, the Freedom Indiana team is working around the clock to build the momentum that’s necessary to win. And all of us at the Equality Federation are ready to provide any expertise and support that’s needed.

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