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Cummins Inc. is partnering in a coalition of Indiana businesses and organizations to oppose a state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.
The Columbus-based engine maker said that the amendment would harm Cummins employees and the company’s efforts to attract and retain the most talented people.
Cummins representatives, including Director of State Government Relations Shannon Kiely-Heider and Director of Executive Communication Melina Kennedy, attended a rally Wednesday in downtown Indianapolis to help launch Freedom Indiana, a coalition that also includes drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Jennifer Wagner, spokeswoman for Freedom Indiana, said about 200 people attended the 30-minute rally, and organizers signed up supporters and volunteers to help sway enough legislators to reject the bill in the upcoming legislative session.
Cummins spokesman Jon Mills said that the company joined the effort because diversity is one of Cummins’ core values.
Cummins has a long history of operating with integrity, Mills said, from its support of the civil rights movement to opposing apartheid in South Africa and offering domestic partner benefits in 2000.
“We look at diversity and inclusion as very important,” Mills said. The amendment “clearly sends a message of intolerance.”
In a news release, Cummins Chief Administrative Officer Marya Rose said, “We feel strongly that this amendment … will enshrine inequality into the Indiana Constitution and negatively impact the thousands of Cummins employees who live and work in Indiana as well as harm our efforts to retain and attract the best talent here.”
Wagner said that some of the language in the bill may invalidate domestic-partner benefits that some companies and cities in Indiana already offer. Wagner said Freedom Indiana believes that because of those concerns, some pragmatic lawmakers could be persuaded to vote against the bill.
As in previous years, Kiely-Heider said, Cummins plans to testify on the issue before Indiana legislators.
If state legislators pass the bill for the second time, voters would determine the amendment’s fate in a referendum in the fall 2014 election. In that case, Wagner said, Freedom Indiana will deploy its resources to persuade voters to reject the amendment.
Freedom Indiana said in the news release that the amendment is unnecessary because state law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Columbus native, has said he supports the amendment. After a June U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage, Pence said in a statement, “I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman and is a unique institution worth defending in our state and nation.”
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