Local Chamber Groups Stay Out of Fray Over Indiana Same-Sex Marriage Ban

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 10:01 AM EDT

NORTHEAST Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Two major business organizations in Northeast Indiana are staying on the sidelines for now, regarding the effort to enact a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the Hoosier state.

A powerful chamber group in the state capital, however, is fighting against the ban.

The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce says if the state legislature votes for the same sex marriage ban in 2014, it would be a big mistake.

The Indiana General Assembly voted in 2011 to advance the idea of a constitutional ban on gay marriage, but it will take a second vote in support of the ban before it goes to Hoosier voters through a referendum.

Vince Buchanan, the head of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, says there are passionate feelings on both sides of the issue in his group, but no consensus has been reached to date.

The Indianapolis Chamber has taken a position, claiming the amendment would be divisive, bad for business and for the state's image.

" Many states who wrote this into their Constitution and have similar bans did so many years ago. To our knowledge, Indiana is the only state at present debating and discussing this type of a constitutional ban. It makes us conspicuous in a way that I believe we don't want to stand out," said Michael Huber, President of the Indy Chamber.

" I can't predict the future, but I have a pretty strong suspicion that we'll probably be neutral on that topic," said Buchanan.

The fact that Northeast Indiana is maybe the most conservative part of the state could make it more problematic for Buchanan’s chamber organization to formally oppose a same sex marriage ban.

The Indy Chamber's very public position came as a surprise to Mark Becker, the head of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., which represents hundreds of businesses in the Summit City.

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. so far has not discussed or taken a stance on the state constitutional amendment.

The fact that powerhouse employers Cummins Engines and Eli Lilly from Central Indiana are opposed to the gay marriage ban is likely having an impact on the debate in the Indianapolis area.

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