As members of Queer Faculty and Staff (QFS), the Indiana University Bloomington lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faculty-staff group, we write to express our profound concern regarding Indiana House Joint Resolution HJR-6. We are also joined by faculty and staff allies who share our concerns. While most of the media and public attention concerning this amendment to Indiana's constitution has focused on the issue of defining marriage at the state level, we believe this change could have deeper, unclear, and detrimental consequences for the entire IU community. Below we enumerate our main concerns:
1. The proposed amendment will have a damaging effect on the intellectual life of the university. One of our primary values - that of free critical inquiry unhampered by politics and narrow social prejudices - will be irreparably damaged. House Joint Resolution 6 stands in direct opposition to the principles of diversity, respect, tolerance, and freedom that are the foundations of our intellectual community.
2. The constitutional amendment targets a large number of IU employees (many of the signatories below are only a small fraction of the people who are explicitly targeted and will, it appears, face long-term consequences). Given the un-adjudicated and ambiguous wording of the second sentence of the proposed amendment, it has unclear and vast implications for many more. If the amendment were to become law, its broad wording would almost certainly be used in lawsuits to attack domestic partner benefits. The trustees unanimously approved domestic partner benefits in 2001, recognizing that they were essential to making IU competitive with its peers in both recruiting and retention. Deans and other academic administrators emphasized the importance of this issue to the trustees. Indiana University thus has a direct stake in this matter.
3. The amendment would discourage a wide range of scholars from choosing to work at IU. First and perhaps most obviously, Indiana will be perceived not just as unwelcoming to LGBT people, but also actively antagonistic. If IU wishes to maintain the strength of its programs (the Jacobs School of Music and the Kelley Business School are ranked among the best in the country, for example), it must recruit the best staff, scholars and administrators in the world, and make competitive offers. The future of these programs will be compromised without full benefit packages for its prospective staff and faculty, as well as those prospective staff and faculty who choose not to come to IU because of the legal category in which they find themselves and their partnerships. Further, this issue is important to many non-LGBT faculty and staff, who regard equal treatment of LGBT employees as a sign of how welcoming and diverse we are.
4. Worse, the amendment will encourage current faculty to accept offers elsewhere. We foresee, and are already seeing, a serious problem in the retention of our faculty. We stand to lose some of our most talented teachers, scholars, administrators and staff to those states without discriminatory marriage legislation.
As you know, many professional groups have come out against House Joint Resolution 6, including health care workers and social workers. Surely, the welfare of the university community is at risk. Indiana University is at risk - financially, intellectually, ethically - because of this amendment. We implore you to take a stand against the resolution. We ask that the Senate of Indiana commit to the human rights of all the faculty and staff at Indiana University and other Indiana colleges and universities. We ask that you uphold your responsibility to higher education in Indiana, and that you protect our ability to attract and retain the best students, scholars, and staff in the world.
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