Showing posts with label Indiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indiana. Show all posts

April 1, 2015

Indiana Built on Sports gets No Cheers and Republicans Show Its Still the Old Party

Demonstrators gather outside the City County Building in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 30, 2015.

Aaron P. Bernstein—Getty ImagesDemonstrators gather outside the City County Building in Indianapolis, Indiana 

This week, sports fans will turn their eyes towards Indianapolis and what promises to be a memorable Final Four. Kentucky is going for a perfect season—for men’s college hoops, it would be the first in almost 40 years. Sharpshooting Wisconsin, led by All-American and possible national player of the year Frank “the Tank” Kaminsky, will try to end the Wildcats’ winning streak in one national semifinal. In the other semi, the biggest name in college basketball—Duke—faces off against Final Four regular Michigan State. This year’s event features star players (Kaminsky, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor) and brand-name coaches (Coach K, John Calipari, Tom Izzo). It’s a dream showcase for the NCAA.
Too bad all anyone can talk about is Indiana.
No, not the Hoosier hoops program: IU left the Big Dance long ago. Indiana—more specifically Indianapolis, the Final Four host city—is stealing the spotlight, thanks to controversial new legislation that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed last week. Critics of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) say the law gives businesses license to discriminate against LGBT residents, in the name of religious freedom. Indiana is the 20th state to pass a RFRA, but a) unlike some other states, Indiana does not specifically protect the LGBT population from discrimination elsewhere in the state code; b) Indiana is the only state to pass such a law in 2015, an era in which Americans have become much more accepting of gay people, and in which same-sex marriage could become the law of the land (15 states passed these laws between 1993 and 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures) and c) Indiana is the only state to pass such a law just days before a mass American cultural tradition plays out in its largest, most important city.
Final Four hosts cities are like the refs. If they’re the topic of conversation, something must have gone terribly wrong.
 Indianapolis is in a particularly rough spot. Any economist will tell you that sports is usually an ineffective development tool. But if any city has successfully bet on sports to lift its fortunes, it’s Indy. Back in the 1960s, the most exciting things going on in its desolate downtown was the pigeon shooting—citizens would spray bullets on Sundays to control the population. “We were India-no-place,” Indy Mayor Greg Ballard tells TIME.
To revitalize “Naptown,” business and government leaders settled on a sports strategy: The city would try to lure teams and major international events. First, a downtown arena, home to the Indiana Pacers, opened in 1974. The Indiana Sports Corp. became the first non-profit commission in the U.S. dedicated to recruiting and managing sports events. The city built the Hoosier Dome—which helped attract the Colts from Baltimore in 1984—and invested in track and field, swimming and cycling facilities to host the 1982 National Sports Festival and 1987 Pan Am Games. The national governing bodies for track and field, swimming and gymnastics all settled in Indianapolis. Hotels and office buildings sprouted. In 1987, National Geographiccalled Indianapolis “The Cinderella of the Rustbelt.” The NCAA moved its headquarters to Indianapolis in 1999. The city has hosted more men’s Final Fours—six, including this one—over the past 25 years than any other in the country. The 2012 Super Bowl was a success. And overall, Indy’s compact downtown makes it an ideal setting for big-time events. 
“It’s fair to say that this city was built on sports,” says Chris Gahl, vice president of marketing & communications for Visit Indy, a promotional arm. So if sports leagues and teams start boycotting the city, because they don’t want to associate with what they see as a discriminatory law, they can tear it apart. “I certainly can’t endorse something that in principal is contrary to the value or our organization, and mine and my family’s personal values,” says USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel, who is from Indianapolis. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities,” Charles Barkley said in a statement
This year’s Final Four is projected to generate $70.8 million in direct visitor spending, according to Visit Indy. The 2010 Final Four, won by Duke, brought in $50 million. According to research firm Rockport Analytics, the 2012 Super Bowl contributed nearly $280 million to the local economy and supported nearly 4,700 jobs. An online petition calling on the Big Ten conference to move its championship football game, which contributed $16 million in direct visitor spending to Indianapolis in 2014, out of the city collected thousands of signatures.
The NCAA, which has some 500 employees at its Indy headquarters, took a notably strong stand against the law. “Anything that could potentially allow for discrimination and works in a way that is inconsistent with our values for inclusion is something we are very concerned about,” NCAA President Mark Emmert told ESPN on Monday. “We have to say, what do we do if this law goes into effect in July, and what’s our relationship with the state of Indiana going to be.” Pence has done the impossible: Won the NCAA widespread kudos.
This kind of talk has Ballard, the Indy mayor, very concerned. “This is very much a burgeoning convention setting, and sports event place,” says Ballard, who like the Governor is a Republican. “A lot of jobs depend on it, and the hospitality industry is huge here, just because of the sports and the convention business.” The NFL, for example, could move its annual scouting combine out of Indianapolis. “It’s very difficult for us right now,” says Ballard, who agrees that Pence’s timing was terrible. In an executive order released Monday, Ballard called on state lawmakers and the Governor to “expressly add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in state law.”
“They have to correct this, and they have to correct it quickly,” Ballard tells TIME. “They have to make it very, very clear that discrimination is not acceptable anywhere, and that services and facilities are open to everybody in the state of Indiana.” Without such action, Indiana might find itself out of the game.   

March 31, 2015

Tim Cook calls the Indiana Religious law “Dangerous”

Demonstrators gather in downtown Indianapolis Saturday to protest the controversial religious freedom law.(Reuters)

 — Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook toughed his criticism of Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law, calling it “very dangerous” and said Apple would opposite such legislation wherever it emerges. 
Similar legislation has been introduced in more than two dozen other states, including Arkansas and Georgia. Critics say the law could be used to sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.
In addition to Apple AAPL, -0.07%  , several other business leaders, including Inc. CRM, +0.45%  CEO Marc Benioff, have publicly opposed the law. Eli Lilly & Co. LLY, +0.14%  , the largest publicly traded company in the state, said the law was “bad for Indiana and for business.”
“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country,” Cook wrote in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post this weekend, after tweeting against the law on Friday. 
Bills similar to the Indiana law, which was signed into law on Thursday, and a measure being considered in Texas that would allow the state to strip salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year, will “rationalize injustice,” Cook said. 
“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” he wrote. “I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.” 
Despite the backlash, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence continued to defend the law this weekend, and state Republicans planned a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time to clarify the law. 
State Democrats will take center stage at 10 a.m. to respond to calls for legislative action in response to the law, according to the Associated Press.

June 16, 2014

Indiana Seems to be next on gay marriage decision from Court of Appeals

                                                                Indiana Among States Fighting to Ban Gay Marriage
 A federal judge's lengthy deliberations on whether to stay his ruling recognizing a same-sex Indiana couple's marriage could signal that a broader decision is coming, legal experts say.
The state asked U.S. District Judge Richard Young for the stay on May 8, the same day he granted a preliminary injunction requiring Indiana to recognize the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney.
The state also is asking the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to review Young's decision, which applies just to the one couple — not to others who were legally wed elsewhere and also are seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.
Quasney is terminally ill with ovarian cancer. The Munster couple, who have two young daughters, were married in Massachusetts last year and have argued that lack of such recognition would endanger Sandler's ability to collect Social Security and other death benefits.
Marriage law expert Seymour J. Reisman said it is "absolutely unusual" for a judge to take so much time to grant a stay.
"The purpose of a stay order is immediate relief," said Reisman, a partner in the New York law firm Reisman Peirez Reisman and Capobianco LLP. "When I say immediately, certainly no more than a week."
The delay makes Reisman suspect Young may simply skip the stay order and decide whether to throw out Indiana's gay marriage ban.
"It's clear to me from what he's done he's not going to do what the state wants," Reisman said.
Gay marriage supporters hope the tide will continue in their favor. Bans have been struck down in five states since Indiana's ban was argued in federal court in early April. Those states are Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“We are certainly optimistic that Indiana's marriage ban will be struck down as unconstitutional," said Paul Castillo, an attorney for the national gay rights group Lambda Legal, which represents five couples challenging Indiana's same-sex marriage ban. 
Bryan Corbin, spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, declined to speculate on the timing of a stay or a ruling.
"It is up to the court to determine in what order it rules on the motion for stay and motions for summary judgment. We cannot speculate as to the sequence or timing," Corbin said.
This year, laws banning same-sex marriage have been thrown out in a dozen states, a trend Young took note of when he ordered Indiana to recognize Sandler and Quasney's marriage.
“The court is not persuaded that, at this stage, Indiana's anti-recognition law will suffer a different fate than those around the country," Young wrote at the time. Attorneys for both sides expect the lawsuit and several like it throughout the country to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court. Rulings striking down gay-marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia are already being appealed.
Castillo said it's important for the Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage "because we currently have a patchwork of laws."
“We need consistency across the country," he said.
Charles D. Wilson

December 14, 2013

Mary Chenney Stumps for Gay Rights in Indiana

Mary Cheney has a gift. She's made both sides of the political spectrum angry

  Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has stepped up her defense of gay marriage, traveling to Indiana to campaign against a bill that would outlaw same sex unions.
Cheney, who lives in Virginia with her wife Heather Poe, has become more vocal on the issue since her public spat with sister after Liz Cheney spoke out against gay marriage last month during her campaign for a Wyoming Senate seat.
Mary Cheney spoke out against HJR6, a bill being considered in the Indiana legislature that would only recognize heterosexual marriages  as valid and says that “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”
Gay marriage is already outlawed in Indiana, but critics fear HJR6 would go beyond that and limit benefits for same sex couples.
“This is an incredibly personal issue for me, one that couldn’t possibly hit closer to home,” Cheney told supporters of Freedom Indian on Wednesday. The video of her remarks was posted today.
Concerns with the legislation center around its vague language and uncertain implications for same-sex couples if it were to be passed.  Freedom Indiana states on its website that in addition to their opposition to the elimination of same sex marriage validity in Indiana, that “no one has been able to clearly define what effects the second sentence would have on existing marriages, domestic partner benefits, human rights ordinances, legal contracts and benefits for unmarried couples.”
Cheney highlighted her conservative bona fides in the speech.
“I’m pro-life. I’m pro gun. I think more government is almost never the solution to any problem, and I believe you can’t have personal freedom without personal responsibility,” Cheney said emphatically.  ”And as a conservative I also believe that strong families are the cornerstone of our society…families regardless of how they look or how they’re made or where they live…deserve to be treated with the same respect, dignity, legal rights and recognitions as every other.”
“This isn’t about marriage equality. This is about standing up and opposing an amendment that would hurt Indiana’s economy, impact the state’s future development, and potentially devastate many of the state’s families,” said Cheney.  ”But while we may never agree on marriage equality, we can certainly all agree that this amendment is not the way to deal with the issue.”
Dick Cheney recently weighed into the controversy between his two daughters.  ”We were surprised that there was an attack launched against Liz on Facebook, and wished it hadn’t happened,” Cheney said at the National Press Club last week.  ”It’s always been dealt with within the context of the family and frankly that’s our preference.
Mary Cheney and Heather Poe were legally married in front of a judge in Washington, D.C. a little over a year ago.  The couple of over 21 years have a son and a daughter.
By Alex Lazar
pic Threshold Edition

December 4, 2013

Indiana Mayors Dead Against Cementing Ban For Gay Marriage

A bipartisan group of Indiana mayors including those of some of the state's largest cities are speaking out against cementing Indiana's ban on gay marriage in the state constitution.
The mayors of West Lafayette, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend and Hammond were among those opposing the proposed constitutional ban Tuesday because they said it would hurt their cities economically and deny equal rights to same-sex couples.
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis released a statement to Freedom Indiana opposing HJR-6.
"The City of West Lafayette prides itself on being a diverse, tolerant and welcoming community. For years we have been a state-wide leader in celebrating our diversity and ensuring that all our citizens are treated with respect. Because of this guiding philosophy, West Lafayette and the Greater Lafayette community has celebrated having over a billion dollars of the new investment for 2013. HJR-6 sends the wrong message for our city, for our community and for our state," said Dennis.
The other 10 mayors announced their opposition in statements distributed by Freedom Indiana, a coalition of business groups and individuals fighting the amendment.
Executive director Micah Clark of the pro-amendment American Family Association of Indiana tells The Indianapolis Star he hasn't asked any mayors to support it.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said Tuesday night he is opposed to the amendment.

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