Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

January 7, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Ind. Republican fights marriage amendment

'This isn't the image we want for our state'

(Continued)

Robertson, an energetic optimist, shrugs off past support for the amendment. Citing polls that show rapidly evolving opinions on the issue of same-sex marriage in Indiana — combined with court rulings favoring same-sex marriage in New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah and Ohio — Robertson is convinced her efforts will pay off.

“We’re fair-minded people,” Robertson said of her fellow Hoosiers. “We know this isn’t the image we want for our state.”

She’s won some impressive backing for that message that ties directly into that “Hoosier hospitality” sentiment for which we pride ourselves.

When Freedom Indiana kicked off its campaign this summer, announcing Robertson as the shaper of its message, it also announced twin donations of $100,000 from two of the state’s biggest and best employers — pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and engine-maker Cummins. Robertson used the money to ramp up the organization and mobilize volunteers who’ve made 250,000 phone calls, triggering a tsunami of emails and letters to lawmakers.

Since Robertson started, vocal opposition to the amendment has grown and included Republican (and Democratic) mayors from the state’s biggest cities — Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight among them.

And it includes prominent GOP stalwarts such as former U.S. Attorney Deborah Daniels — sister to former Gov. Mitch Daniels — who wrote an opinion column that asked the question: “What can my Republican friends be thinking?”

It’s a question echoed by Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany, who predicts he won’t be the only Republican lawmaker to vote against the amendment, as he was two years ago.

Of Robertson, Clere says: “She’s living proof that this is not a partisan issue.”

The conventional political wisdom has the amendment as an odds-on favorite for passage.

Robertson is dismissive of the conventional wisdom: “Anybody who says they know what’s going to happen in session is going to be proven wrong. The process is just too volatile.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden.

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