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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 14 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 07
NCAA goes on record opposing Gay marriage ban
Section One
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NCAA goes on record opposing Gay marriage ban

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The NCAA, the governing body of college sports, has announced its opposition to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages now pending in the Indiana legislature.

The measure, known as HJR-3, would expand Indiana's laws against same-sex marriages by amending the state constitution to define marriage as a relationship only between a man and a woman.

'The NCAA national office leadership strongly supports an environment of inclusion where all of our employees are treated fairly and enjoy equal protection under the law,' NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said. 'We urge Indiana lawmakers to legislate in the same spirit.'

Based in Indianapolis, the NCAA has for a long time offered benefits to same-sex partners of its 450 employees, Williams added.

Historically, the NCAA has blocked college sports events in venues it considers discriminatory. For example, it has banned championship games in South Carolina since 2001, because the Confederate flag flies on statehouse grounds.

Speaking about the Confederate flag, the chair of NCAA's executive committee said: '& to a significant number of our constituents, the flag is a symbol of oppression.'

In 2005, the NCAA ruled that 19 member schools had mascots that were 'hostile or abusive' and banned those schools from playing host to NCAA championships or using the mascot imagery in NCAA championships.

Opponents of HJR-3 say they are not seeking similar action by the NCAA, at least not for now.

'These events are set up years and years in advance,' said Rick Sutton, President of Indiana Equality. 'If you start to pull the yarn, how long does it take for the sweater to get undone?

'I don't know how you unravel that, even if you want to. Now, does it impact the awarding of future events? That's a conversation worth having.'

Sutton noted that several Indiana schools that are NCAA members, including Indiana University, Butler, Ball State, Evansville, Wabash, Hanover and DePauw, have spoken out publicly against HJR-3.

'They [the NCAA] are excellent corporate citizens ... that pay very close attention to their constituencies,' he said.

Indiana law requires a potential constitutional amendment to pass in identical form through two sessions of the state legislature, and then to be put on the ballot for a popular vote.

One version of the measure passed in the previous legislative session, but the Indiana House modified it this year. A Senate committee voted on February 10 to send the House version to the full Senate for consideration.

If the Senate approves the House version, the amendment process returns to step one, and the new wording must be approved by the next legislative session. If that is the case, no amendment will appear on the Indiana ballot before 2016 at the earliest.

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