News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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December 16, 2013

ISU joins opposition to HJR-6

Faculty, staff, student groups say no to amending constitution

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University faculty, staff and student governance groups are speaking with a united voice in opposition to HJR-6, a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The Faculty Senate, Staff Council and Student Government Association have all taken votes in opposition to the proposal.

Their actions are in keeping with the university’s handbook policy, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on several factors, including sexual orientation, university President Daniel J. Bradley said in a statement released Monday.

“Our governance groups saw this as a human rights issue that not only contradicts our current policy but, if adopted, could impact the university’s ability to attract and retain faculty, staff and students,” Bradley said.

He shared the actions of the governance groups with the university’s board of trustees, but no further action would be required because university policy already is in place. He had no further comment on the issue.

Steve Lamb, Faculty Senate chairman, said a vote opposing the constitutional amendment “was very broadly supported” by the senate, although not unanimous.

“Some [faculty] think we ought to keep our nose out of state politics,” Lamb said.

The Faculty Senate took a stand “for the health of the institution, to be able to attract individuals from a diverse background,” he said. The other was “for morality reasons.”

Logan Valentine, SGA president, had no further comment on action by that group. “We support the president’s statement,” he said. The groups want to speak with one voice, he added.

Bill Wilhelm, a professor in the ISU Scott College of Business who teaches ethics, recently organized a panel discussion on the issue. He is pleased that ISU and the three governing bodies have taken a stand on the issue.

“I think it’s significant that all of the major institutions of higher education in the state have weighed in on this, and all of them pretty much are adamantly opposed” to HJR-6, Wilhelm said.

He believes it’s important to address the issue from both a human rights and economic perspective, which ISU has done.

The proposed constitutional amendment is immoral, Wilhelm has stated, because it “is aimed to segregate, degrade and demean a distinct population of law-abiding citizens by denying them the right to marry and form families.” He describes it as “blatant discrimination.”

Indiana’s General Assembly is poised to vote a second time to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage when the 2014 session starts in January.

Indiana passed a law in 1997 forbidding same-sex marriage, but beginning in 2004, there has been an annual effort to put an amendment banning such marriages into the state’s constitution. The idea gained approval in 2011 from the General Assembly.

The process to amend the state constitution requires that two consecutive, separately elected Legislatures pass a measure, which then goes before voters in the form of a statewide referendum.

If approved by the Legislature early next year, the same-sex marriage ban amendment would be on the ballot in November 2014.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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