News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 17, 2014

City Council hears same-sex marriage bill debate

Sizable group turns out for Nation’s resolution

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — People opposing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Indiana spoke up Thursday night to the Terre Haute City Council.

About 30 people came to the council’s regular meeting in City Hall asking the nine-member body to support a resolution being introduced by Councilman Todd Nation next month to oppose a measure before the Indiana General Assembly that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. If passed by the state legislature, the measure would next go before Hoosier voters in a referendum on November’s ballot. If the measure passed the referendum, it would  become part of the state’s constitution.

A constitutional prohibition would be a “black mark” to the state, said Todd Berry of Terre Haute, one of several people to speak to the council.

Several Indiana businesses, including Eli Lilly and Cummins Inc., have come out against the constitutional amendment, another speaker said. Numerous Indiana mayors and local government legislative bodies have also taken positions against the proposed amendment, she said.

Doug Sloan with the Central Christian Church in Terre Haute also urged the council to support Nation’s resolution. There is no rational or faith-based justification for denying gay and lesbian individuals the right to marry, he told the council.

Other speakers told the council they would leave the state if the measure becomes part of the state constitution.

Indiana is one of a handful of states that bans gay marriage by statute but not in its constitution. A little more than half the states have constitutional language prohibiting same-sex marriage. Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriage, up from none just more than a decade ago.

Speaking after the council meeting, Nation said his constituents started contacting him back in November asking him to sponsor such a resolution in the City Council.

n Also Thursday, Council President Amy Auler, D-1st, named the council’s committee chairmen and memberships for 2014. The council’s finance committee will be chaired by councilman Norm Loudermilk, D-3rd, with members George Azar, D-At large, John Mullican, D-6th, Neil Garrison, D-5th, and Auler.

At first, the finance committee list did not include Garrison, who has been perhaps the most vocal observer and critic of the city’s financial situation for the past several years. Garrison asked to be included in the committee at the end of the meeting, stating he had previously requested membership to Auler. Councilman Don Morris, D-at large, who had been on the original list, volunteered to leave the finance committee for Garrison. After the meeting, Auler said she granted committee memberships in the order she received them and Garrison’s request to be on the finance committee came in after she had finalized the group’s membership.

Auler also named Councilman Jim Chalos, D-at large, chairman of the governmental affairs committee with members Morris, Bob All, R-2nd, Loudermilk and Nation. The planning and zoning committee will be chaired by Garrison with members All, Auler, Mullican and Nation. Traffic and public safety will be chaired by Mullican with members Chalos, Nation, Morris and Azar.

The council approved all committee appointments without opposition. City Council committees typically only meet in rare circumstances.

n The council also passed without opposition rezoning requests for property at Seventh Street and Margaret Avenue and at 13th and Hulman streets. Both rezonings will allow for commercial uses on property previously zoned for residential use. The properties are both adjacent to land currently being used for commercial purposes.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or