Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

January 6, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Marriage debate could be volatile

Megan Robertson grew up in a Democratic family in a heavily Democratic area known as “the region” for its proximity to Chicago. But when she went off to college at a private, Christian university in Anderson, her first political science course helped her discover her true identity — as a small-government Republican, as she puts it, who believes in personal liberty and freedom.

Over the next decade, Robertson earned the political chops to call herself a Republican activist. She served as precinct committeewoman, chaired a GOP ward, ran two successful Republican mayoral campaigns, organized campaign rallies for tea party icon Sarah Palin, and served as spokeswoman for a conservative Indiana congressman.

Now, she’s tapping into those experiences to lead the fight against Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions — despite the fact that many of her party’s conservative leaders support it.

At 31, Robertson is the campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, a statewide organization seeking to stop the Legislature from putting the amendment to voters on the November 2014 ballot.

“I’m a Republican because I’m for small government,” Robertson told me, repeating the argument she hopes will appeal to Republicans who control the Statehouse. “Amending our Constitution for a social policy doesn’t make sense from a conservative Republican view, in my opinion. Obviously, some people feel differently.”

The “some people” include Republican Gov. Mike Pence, an avowed defender of what he calls “traditional marriage.” They include GOP legislative leaders who steered the amendment through passage two years ago, in the first of a three-step process required to amend the state Constitution.

And they include the influential Indiana Family Institute, a conservative advocacy group with strong ties to Pence and key GOP lawmakers. The Institute and other amendment supporters argue that Indiana’s current law against same-sex marriage needs to be locked into the Constitution to protect it from “activist” judges.

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Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
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