The Herald Bulletin

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January 9, 2014

House panel pivotal in Indiana gay marriage debate



One of the key targets, Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, said he has been pressured since last spring to declare how he will vote. He noted that he began receiving mailers shortly after the 2013 session asking him to declare his position.

He said the most frustrating part was having activists put words in his mouth.

"One of the things I have found in being undecided on how to vote on this issue right now — and I have not declared whether I am in favor of it or opposed to it — I find myself being cast as I am opposed to it," he said. "And from that standpoint, I am not very happy about it."

Another targeted member, Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, said he's been contacted by both sides but is more focused on other issues.

Some members have toughened against lobbying on divisive issues after years of high-profile fights, he said. McMillin was elected in Nov. 2010, since then he has dealt with a sweeping education overhaul in 2011, the right-to-work labor battle in 2012 and the budget battles of the most recent session.

"It's just something that you learn to deal with," he said. "Is there pressure out there from both sides? Yeah, there is. But we learn to deal with it."

McMillin said he plans to vote in favor of the amendment.

Eric Miller, executive director of Advance America, said he plans to advertise votes by each lawmaker, from the committee to the full chamber.

"All through the process we're going to be educating people about what's going on, how their representative or senator votes," he said. He added that he's confident the amendment will pass the committee and the House.

Advertising legislative votes is hardly a new tactic among activists at all levels of government. Interest groups have been issuing "report cards" scoring lawmakers for decades, but Miller has deep roots inside the Statehouse and Indiana has a strong base of conservative voters.

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