By Jesse Wilson
Wabash College and DePauw University announced Monday that the schools are joining a coalition working to defeat a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The colleges - which are athletic rivals and scheduled to meet Saturday for the annual Monon Bell football game - issued a statement jointly, saying that a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage would make it tougher to attract high-quality faculty to Indiana.
"We are also engaged in the enterprise of fostering ideas and innovation, a mission which inherently depends on an environment of openness and inclusion that would be compromised should this amendment be enacted," DePauw President Brian Casey and Wabash President Gregory Hess said in the statement.
Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, who supports the amendment, dismissed the latest announcement.
"It's no surprise as college campuses are usually far more liberal than the general populace," Clark said. "But the future of marriage and the importance of a mom and a dad belongs in the hands of Hoosier voters, not the board rooms of college trustees."
The colleges' statement comes just a week after Indiana University made a similar announcement. Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has said his school won't weigh in.
The schools have joined Freedom Indiana, a group of businesses, organizations and individuals that oppose the amendment. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has approved the amendment once but it must pass a second time before it can go on the ballot for ratification by voters. If that second approval doesn't come in 2014 - or if the proposed amendment's language is changed - the multi-year approval process starts over.
A number of conservative lawmakers and organizations support the amendment and say protecting the institution of marriage from changes is important. But the proposed amendment goes farther and would ban civil unions as well.
Earlier this year, legislative leaders said they expected the proposed amendment to pass the General Assembly in 2014 but they've been fairly silent on the issue in recent months. During that time, an increasing number of companies - including Eli Lilly & Co. and Cummins Inc. - and organizations - including the Indy Chamber - have said publicly they will oppose the amendment.
In their joint statement, Casey and Hess said their students "come from around the country and around the world, and our fundamental goal is to educate them to think critically, exercise responsible leadership, communicate effectively, and tackle complex problems.
"This depends on attracting talented faculty and staff, a task that is made more difficult by the passage of this amendment," the pair said.
Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson said Monday that the colleges are "sending the message that Indiana is a place that welcomes everyone, not a place where we remove protections for certain Hoosiers from our constitution."
Jesse Wilson is a reporter for TheStatehouseFIle.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.