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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

On Discrimination and Employment

Yesterday, the Indiana House subcomitte voted down an amendement to the State Constitution that would ban gay marriage, and ban civil unions and make unclear whether unmarried couples could get employee benefits etc.

A statement in the proposed amendment read:

"...may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

It was an emotional vote, but a good one for the State.

This smackdown comes just a week or two after some of Indiana's largest employers - Eli Lilly, Cummins, Wellpoint, and Emmis Communications - all sent statements to the legislature denouncing the proposed amendment. A statement from Cummins:

"This resolution had no place in a state that professes to treat all residents with dignity... Those who defeated it have done something good for Indiana and good for business."

These companys' main argument was that the amendment would make Indiana an unattractive place for gays and others (straight individuals) who deem certainty of spousal benefits important. If labor economics teaches us anything, it teaches that individuals make the decision to work based not just on the wage level on the table given their labor/leisure tradeoff, but also with regard to fringe and non-monetary benefits that many companies offer - including domestic partner benefits for health, life insurance, 401K, etc. It is therefore obvious to any student of Economics that such a bill that puts such benefits in jeopardy would likely be a serious detractor for many people.

Indiana should be thanking these high-profile companies for stepping up to the plate for common decency.

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