Gay marriage supporters form Indiana coalition

A supporter of gay marriage holds flowers for friends applying for a marriage license. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A supporter of gay marriage holds flowers for friends applying for a marriage license. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gay marriage supporters in Indiana said Tuesday they are forming a coalition to build support for their cause following high-profile fights over the issue at the Statehouse and in the courts.

Hoosiers Unite for Marriage is planning to launch Wednesday. Group director Kyle Megrath said it’s “a natural progression from all the momentum” related to the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage in the state.

“The objectives are really to increase Hoosier support for the freedom to marry,” Megrath said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana will be part of the coalition along with Liberty Indiana and the national group Freedom to Marry.

One of their first moves will be to send Attorney General Greg Zoeller petitions asking him to drop his backing of the state’s gay marriage ban. Megrath said he has not determined the number of signatures he would like to send Zoeller.

The group’s launch comes just days after the Indiana Republican Party approved a platform that supports defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Voting on the issue, which took place among roughly 1,500 delegates at the Republican convention this past weekend in Fort Wayne, exposed some clear divisions within the party. But it also revealed there is strong support among Republicans for defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The new coalition will be nonprofit and won’t support legislation or political candidates, Megrath said. Instead, he said, members will look to spread support for gay marriage through community meetings, petitions and other activities.

Gay marriage supporters won a partial victory earlier this year when they kept a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage off the ballot for this November. But the legislative maneuvering on the issue hardly amounted to widespread support for gay marriage.

Most lawmakers who voted to keep the issue off the ballot said they were concerned the measure went too far by also barring any future approval of civil unions.

Because lawmakers removed the civil unions ban from the proposal, they also reset the clock on the state’s lengthy constitutional amendment process, making 2016 the soonest the measure could appear on the ballot.

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