By C. M. Schmidlkofer
Throughout history the arts have played an important role in shaping the direction of human rights, either through organized efforts or individual works by artists.
Pablo Picasso painted Guernica in 1937 in response to the fascist violence against the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Music has also been a vehicle for social change. Most recently in the 1960’s some popular music reflected a generation’s desire for a change in civil rights.
So it should be no surprise that the Indianapolis Museum of Art took a stand against Indiana House Joint Resolution 3, otherwise known as the same-sex ban. If lawmakers had passed the original amendment Hoosiers would have had the opportunity to make the final decision this year at the voting polls.
The IMA and its Board of Governors agreed to oppose the bill based on its long-standing policy of welcoming diversity and acceptance of all people, according to CEO Dr. Charles L. Venable.
It was a decision not made lightly, Spokesman Chris Parker said.
“The IMA and its Board of Governors opposed, outright, the entire HJR-3 bill,” Parker said. “Divisive in its nature, the bill, if legalized, would only have served to segregate the citizens of our state – isolating a particular segment of the population and treating them as second-class simply because of their sexual orientation.”
He added if the bill had passed with its original wording it would have elicited a negative reflection not only for Hoosiers but for the entire country.
The IMA joined forces with Freedom Indiana, a state-wide bi-partisan coalition of civil rights and community organizations, individuals, businesses and faith leaders.
Indiana already prohibits same-sex marriage by statute. Proponents of HJR-3 said the constitutional amendment would offer more protection from court challenges.
Opponents argued it would permanently change the state’s constitution defining marriage, thus affecting protections related to marriage under current Indiana law.
Proponents, such as IMA, said the bill would hurt Indiana’s economy and does not support a culture of equality and compassion.
Indiana legislators approved a revised amendment Feb. 17 which kept the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman but dropped verbiage prohibiting civil unions and other protections for same-sex couples.
Freedom Indiana considered the amendment’s revision a victory.
“It’s a partial victory because the amendment is still alive,” Freedom Indiana Communications Director Jennifer Wagner said. “But our state has been spared a divisive public battle this year.”
Wagner added that Freedom Indiana will continue to oppose HJR-3 as long as the amendment is alive.
“It could come up again in the 2015 session and, if passed in 2015 or 2016, appear on the 2016 ballot,” she said. “We believe that's the wrong move for our state, and we believe it's not what Hoosiers want to see placed in our constitution. We are grateful to our coalition partners for their support as we continue this effort.”
Parker said the IMA would more than likely publicly oppose the re-appearance of HJR-3 or similar legislation in the future.