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Let Freedom Ring

By Greg Kueterman on September 12, 2013 in Civic Blog
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8775603_lHeard about Freedom Indiana? If not, here are a few hints about the demographics of this new organization:

It has both Republicans and Democrats. It includes Fortune 500 companies and individual citizens. Hoosiers and non-Hoosiers alike are members.

And they have a common cause front-and-center.

In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions this summer on the legalities of marriage between same-sex partners, Indiana is on a collision course with destiny to be ground central for the next big battle on the marriage front.  Up for vote will be HJR-6, the proposed amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman in the Indiana constitution. And Freedom Indiana was built to stop HJR-6 in its tracks.

Freedom Indiana launched on August 21 and consists of multiple and unconventional partners. The campaign manager is a long-time Republican operative. Gill Action, LLC, is based in Denver and American Unity Fund is headquartered in Washington, D.C.  And there are two founding corporate partners: Cummins, Inc., and Eli Lilly and Company, where my day job is in corporate communications.

Why are Lilly and Cummins – and potentially other businesses – taking such an active role with Freedom Indiana (with our mouths and our pocketbook)? First and foremost, it’s about keeping and retaining top-notch employees (and not just LGBT employees, but the many people who prefer to work and live in a welcoming environment). And why do we think HJR-6 matters to future employees? Millennials (anyone born in 1981 or later) are the people we’ll be hiring to drive our future success, and 70 percent of millennials support marriage equality (a sharp spike from 51 percent in 2004). The number jumps even higher among millennials with college degrees. So when you’re recruiting global talent, inclusiveness matters.

Secondly, as Lilly’s head of corporate responsibility, Rob Smith, said at the Freedom Indiana launch: a public referendum on this issue will be “very expensive and very divisive.” In the headwind of trying to create more jobs and make Indiana a more attractive place to live and work, the last thing we really need is new battle lines drawn that pits Hoosier against Hoosier.

I’m glad my company is standing on the side of Freedom Indiana, and I’m even happier that many others are doing the same. We’re an unconventional player in this public debate, but we’re not alone in the corporate world: General Mills took a leadership role last year when Minnesota faced a very similar constitutional amendment proposal, and companies such as Starbucks and Google have voiced their support for years. Collectively, we all have something in common: we need the best people possible to achieve our goals. And when recruiting the best minds, hanging a “Need Not Apply” sign outside your front door isn’t helpful.

Greg Kueterman is the Director of Government Legislation; Access and Public Policy Issues at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis. He’s a former newspaper reporter who never really dreamed that four years of journalism school would lead to tweeting 140 characters at a time — but now he kind of likes it (@GregKueterman). A graduate of Indiana University, Greg’s a big fan of NFL football, bike trails and non-fiction. He blogs professionally at LillyPad, where he focuses on Life at Lilly issues, including policies that affect the pharmaceutical industry and the company’s focus on innovation.