Butler’s Faculty Senate voted to unanimously oppose HJR-6 at its meeting on Tuesday morning.
Indiana’s House Joint Resolution 6 is a growing topic of conversation at universities across the state.
Butler University students and faculty of have expressed opposition to the amendment in the past week.
A petition on change.org began circulating the Internet last week to urge Butler President Danko to speak out against the proposed amendment on Butler’s behalf.
Danko said he agreed with the students’ request but is not a spokesperson for the university, Butler Alliance member Emma Salter said.
Danko said he would try to get into the Staff Assembly meeting today to discuss the issue. Danko also said he would like to have Student Government Association input on the topic, and that the Board of Trustees would also need to approve the university’s decision to formally oppose the amendment. The trustees meet next during the first week of December.
The petition reached 831 signatures, as of press time and was brought to Danko Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Butler students and alumni who now work for Freedom Indiana, and gender and women’s sexuality studies professors went to Danko to discuss Butler’s stance on the issue.
Students in the group represented different campus groups, including the Butler GLBT and Straight Alliance and Demia, a feminist organization.
The petition said, “This amendment directly conflicts with Butler’s Community of Care as it alienates members of our community, negatively impacts the emotional health and well-being of those affected, promotes discrimination, and hinders diversity. In order to support Butler’s mission, we implore you to publicly announce that our university opposes HJR-6 and stands with other universities…in supporting Freedom Indiana, a coalition against HJR-6. By refusing to take action on this issue, Butler University directly rejects its historical foundation of inclusivity…We, the undersigned, urge President Danko and Butler University to end their complacent support of HJR-6.”
Demia hosted a discussion Friday about HJR-6 and the possibility of Butler publicy opposing the amendment.
Other Indiana schools, including Indiana University, DePauw University, Wabash College, Hanover College and Ball State University, have already done so.
“If Butler comes out against this amendment, it will help other people come out of the closet on this issue as well,” said Bill Buffie, a medical doctor, author and activist for same-sex couple rights.
This proposed amendment contains two different parts.
The first part states, “Only marriage between one man and one woman will be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.”
This second part of the proposed amendment states, “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”
Same-sex marriage is already not legal in Indiana, and the first part of the amendment is simply restating, not changing, that.
“Why would we add something to the constitution making something that’s already illegal even more illegal?” Demia member Kate Siegfried said.
The second part of the amendment will effect heterosexual and homosexual couples alike.
If passed, this amendment will stop future legislatures from passing laws that allow legal protection for relationships of unmarried people, both same-sex and heterosexual. Thus, civil unions and domestic partnerships will no longer be recognized by the state.
“HJR-6 would permanently deny rights to an entire group of people, thus hindering diversity and inclusivity,” Siegfried said.
If this amendment passes, some have said they believe it will steer people away from living in the state of Indiana.
“I am a legal resident of Ohio, but if this passes, I would refuse to move here to Indiana,” junior Leah Spring said.
Buffie said that, if students are talking about this, they will tell their parents, and alumni of the university will be interested as well.
“If colleges are united on this, it’s a powerful statement,” Buffie said.