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September 3, 2013

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Is diversity a threat, or virtue to cherish?

Freedom Indiana believes it's the latter

In a recent column I wrote when visiting Washington, D.C., as the city was preparing to host the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, I asked the question: “Will we see diversity as a threat to our seemingly secure world? Or embrace it as a strength?”

I posed the question in reference to Indiana’s changing demographics: As recent U.S. Census Bureau numbers show, we’re trending toward greater racial and ethnic diversity, which likely will accelerate in the years to come as the most racially and ethnically diverse age group — Hoosiers under 5 — grows up.

Expect the same question to be posed to Hoosiers in coming months by the growing coalition of opponents to House Joint Resolution 6, the proposed constitutional amendment that would put the state’s current ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution and expand it to cover same-sex civil unions.

The coalition, called Freedom Indiana, is rapidly expanding its presence out of the state’s capital city and into communities around Indiana by building the kind of grassroots campaign that can knock traditional political power off its pedestal. (Think of the grassroots campaign of political novice Glenda Ritz who, with little money or name recognition, took down her well-funded incumbent opponent in last year’s race for superintendent of public instruction.)

Freedom Indiana is asking supporters to reach out to friends, neighbors and family members (and their Facebook friends, Twitter followers and other social media connections) and do something simple: Start a conversation about why HJR-6 doesn’t jibe with the “Hoosier hospitality” sentiment we claim to embrace.

The task for Freedom Indiana is to change the hearts and minds of the 50 percent of Hoosier voters who, according to an April poll by Howey Politics Indiana, support the constitutional amendment. In changing those hearts and minds, Freedom Indiana hopes to pressure legislators who supported the proposed amendment when it came up last year to change their vote when the issue comes up again next year. To stop the proposed amendment from going on the 2014 ballot, Freedom Indiana needs to stop the Legislature from voting for HJR-6 a second time.

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