By SUE LOUGHLIN, Tribune-Star
Terre Haute business owner Mike Tingley has some pretty strong opinions about legislative efforts in Indiana toward a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
“It’s a good reason for people to leave Indiana if such a thing should happen,” he said. “It would be a serious step backward.”
A member of his family is a lesbian and he has many friends who are gay or lesbian.
Tingley said he knows people who probably would leave Indiana if the state constitution was amended to include a same-sex marriage prohibition.
Indiana State University has a policy that prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation. It also extends university benefits to same-sex domestic partners, said Tara Singer, university spokeswoman.
But university officials have no comment on the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. “The board of trustees doesn’t take a position on social policy issues,” Singer said.
She did note that President Dan Bradley “is committed to diversity, tolerance and acceptance of all individuals. He’s done a lot in his administration to provide a welcoming climate for all people at ISU,” she said.
ISU strives to have and recruit a diverse population of faculty, staff and students, Singer said.
While ISU doesn’t take a position on the proposed constitutional ban, some of its professors do.
Sociology professor Chuck Norman believes that if the constitutional amendment passed, it could prevent the most qualified job candidates from considering employment in Indiana. “This could be a deal breaker,” Norman said.
He’s concerned it would cause others to view the Hoosier state as “behind the curve” and close-minded.
Tom Steiger, also an ISU sociology professor, said many businesses simply don’t want the state pursuing something that might affect their ability to hire the best possible candidates for a job.
If such an amendment was ultimately approved by voters through a referendum, it would create a negative environment for gays and lesbians and discourage them from locating to the state, he said.
Ultimately, Steiger believes it will become a dead issue because younger people support marriage equality. “Demographics are all against (the constitutional ban on same sex marriage),” he said. “Those under 30 think (the constitutional ban) is ridiculous.”
While those 65 and over tend to be “vastly against” same sex marriage, that opposition progressively lessens the younger the age group, he said.
While the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says it is neutral on the issue, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce did come out against the constitutional amendment in 2011, when it was moving its way through the legislature.
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce hasn’t looked at the issue, said Ken Brengle, president/CEO, who is new to the position.
When and if it works its way through the state legislature again, “At that point we might ask our public policy group to look at it,” Brengle said.
Kim Perkins, spokeswoman for Union Hospital, deferred any comment on the issue to the Indiana Hospital Association.