“I am afraid that the generation of my 20-something children thinks Republicans are concerned with little else,” he wrote, before asking his party to turn to something more pressing – income inequality.
Yet, the resolution consumes more oxygen in the Statehouse with each passing day.
Well-organized opponents are protesting by the hundreds and directing thousands of emails and phone calls at GOP lawmakers. Well-organized supporters are blitzing the media with messages targeting GOP lawmakers who are wavering.
The opposition has made a dent. Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee stalled an early vote on the measure, prompting House Speaker Brian Bosma to give it to another committee that passed it along party lines. Monday, during a full House debate, 23 Republican members voted to strip the ban on civil unions out of the amendment.
Two years ago, only one House Republican voted against the resolution when it came up for a required initial vote. This session, facing a final vote that would put the measure on the ballot in November, more Republicans are voicing doubts.
“This time we’re writing in indelible ink,” said Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany, the party’s lone holdout two years ago. “And that means a permanent stain on the constitution. I think more Republicans are saying, ‘We need to slow this down and talk about it.’”
Ethan Manning, 22-year-old chairman of the Miami County Republican Party, is tired of the debate. He said he worries that it overshadows what he calls the true GOP agenda – job creation and economic development. Both are critical in his rural county, which has lost well-paying manufacturing jobs and now ranks near the bottom in per capita income.
“I don’t hear about (HJR3) from people who aren’t in the ‘political class,’” said Manning, who helps run his family’s cattle farm. “Outside that group, I think I heard it talked about only one other time – in church, when somebody brought it up.”