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Indiana Companies Protest Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

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INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) – Two prominent corporations headquartered in Indiana are speaking against the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Executives at Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc. argued this past Tuesday that the ban could be detrimental to the Indiana’s image.

The companies say their ability to recruit top employees could be hurt by the amendment.

Meanwhile, when a state Senate committee began debating the measure on Wednesday, hundreds packed the Indiana state capitol to protest the amendment. One of them, Rosy Gray, 13, stood on the Capitol steps holding a rainbow sign reading, “I Love My 2 Gay Dads,” CBS affiliate WISH-TV, Indianapolis, reported.

Rosy and others at the rally organized by the gay rights group Indiana Equality want to send a message that there is no room for discrimination in the state constitution, WISH reported.

Quoted on the Web site GayIndy, Indiana Equality Action president Rick Sutton warned that constitutional amendments were likely to have major repercussions.

“We have seen domestic partner benefits of public employees in Michigan threatened,” Sutton said in the GayIndy story. “Here in Indiana, all unmarried couples could be subjected to similar incidents of discrimination if HJR-6 becomes law.”

Indiana state law already bans same-sex marriage, but supporters of the amendment say it would provide an additional layer of protection for traditional marriage.

The Republican-controlled state House of Representatives voted 70-26 in favor of the amendment last month. The Senate Judiciary Committee is now debating the measure.

A similar anti-gay marriage amendment passed the General Assembly in 2005 when Republicans controlled the House and Senate, but constitutional amendments must go through two separate Legislatures before being put to a public referendum. In 2006, Democrats won control of the House and the proposal didn’t clear the chamber again until this year, when Republicans again control both chambers.

If the amendment passes the Legislature this year, it must pass again in 2013 or 2014 to get on the 2014 ballot.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa.

California also began permitting same-sex marriage after a state Supreme Court decision in June 2008, but that decision was reversed when voters approved Proposition 8 five months later.

Proposition 8 was overturned in Federal Court on Aug. 4 of last year, but it remains in effect indefinitely pending appeal.

Same-sex marriage is banned by constitutional amendment in several states. Both same-sex marriage and civil unions are forbidden by the constitution in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Same-sex marriage is banned by statute in Illinois, but a bill allowing for civil unions was signed into law by Gov. Quinn on Jan. 31, after being approved by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly in December.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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