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Titans of New York Business Call On Albany: "Let The Gays Be Wed!"


© Roger Schultz

As announced last Wednesday in the New York Times, two dozen of the state's top business leaders have released an open letter to Albany legislators urging them to pass the marriage equality bill that will soon come to a vote.

To remain competitive, New York must continue to contend with other world cities to attract top talent. Increasingly, in an age where talent determines the economic winners, great states and cities must demonstrate a commitment to creating an open, healthy and equitable environment in which to live and work.

This is why it is so important that New York State grant full rights to all of its citizens by passing marriage equality.

I don't employ hyperbole lightly, but I will use it where appropriate. And “Titans” is a pretty accurate word to describe the list of 23 signatories that includes the past and present CEOs and top executives of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Revlon, Viacom, Reuters and a wide variety of finance, real estate, media, law and other professions. With only a few exceptions they all have dedicated profile pages on Forbes.com. How many of us can say that?

And it should be noted, the list also includes more than a few well-known Republicans.

Kudos to New Yorkers United For Marriage, the coalition of advocates that successfully enlisted our friends in the world of business to stump for the cause. The full letter after the fold.

These business leaders frame the conversation around the competitive marketplace for human resource talent. With nearby urban markets like Washington DC, and Boston offering same-sex couples better benefits, New York state is lagging behind. Even many heterosexual people have long migrated to New York to be a part of a progressive and forward thinking environment. It's a state reputation to be proud of, but one that must be constantly renewed.

The letter to Albany is below, the links to signatories' business profiles and brief bios were my addition. I presume this does not represent an official endorsement from their affiliated companies.

“We believe that attracting talent is key to our state’s economic future.”

April 28, 2011

New York has rich resources that position our state for continued success in the 21st century – a leading financial center, strong industry clusters, and renowned educational, research and cultural institutions. But major employers know that the single greatest asset New York has to offer is its ability to attract the best talent from around the world. This is crucial, because the size, quality and diversity of the talent pool are the first criteria for business in determining where to locate jobs.

To remain competitive, New York must continue to contend with other world cities to attract top talent. Increasingly, in an age where talent determines the economic winners, great states and cities must demonstrate a commitment to creating an open, healthy and equitable environment in which to live and work.

This is why it is so important that New York State grant full rights to all of its citizens by passing marriage equality. As other states, cities and countries across the world extend marriage rights regardless of sexual orientation, it will become increasingly difficult to recruit the best talent if New York cannot offer the same benefits and protections.


“We strongly urge New York State to enact marriage equality legislation to help maintain our competitive advantage in attracting the best and brightest people the world has to offer.”

Many employers have adopted non-discrimination policies and extended domestic partner benefits long before most cities and states passed them into law. As New Yorkers and business leaders, we believe that attracting talent is key to our state’s economic future. We strongly urge New York State to enact marriage equality legislation to help maintain our competitive advantage in attracting the best and brightest people the world has to offer and to reaffirm our commitment to both freedom and fairness.

Signed,


Candace K. Beinecke
Trustee, Vornado Realty Trust, Chair of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, a New York law firm, and is a practicing partner in the company's Corporate Department.

Tom A. Bernstein
President, Chelsea Piers Management, Inc., Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Lloyd C. Blankfein
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

Kevin Burke
President; Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer of the Company and CECONY, Consolidated Edison, Inc.

Philippe P. Dauman
Director, President and Chief Executive Officer, Viacom, Inc.

Daniel L. Doctoroff
President of Bloomberg L.P., formerly deputy mayor for economic development of the City of New York.

Patrick C. Dunican, Jr.
Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons Law firm and a member of the firm's Business & Commercial Litigation Department. The firm was named to the National Law Journal's inaugural “Midsize Hot List.”

Thomas Glocer
Chief Executive Officer and Director, Thomson Reuters Corporation.

Jonathan N. Grayer
CEO of Kaplan, and educational services and consulting company.

Klaus Kleinfeld
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Alcoa Inc.

Rochelle B. Lazarus
Independent Director, General Electric Company, Chairman of the Board and former Chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.

Daniel S. Loeb
Senior Vice President and President of Greater China Operations, Starbucks Corporation. Former hedge fund manager.

John J. Mack
Chairman of the Board of the Company and Pequot Capital Management, Morgan Stanley

Alan J. Patricof
Director, Boston Properties, Inc.

Ronald O. Perelman
Chairman of the Board, M & F Worldwide Corporation. Former CEO Revlon.

William C. Rudin
Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rudin Management Company, Inc.

Kevin P. Ryan
Founder and CEO of Gilt Groupe. An internet executive and entrepreneur in New York City's Silicon Alley, he is best known as the CEO of DoubleClick.

Paul E. Singer
Chief Financial Officer, Midlands Minerals Corporation. Singer also has unquestionable conservative credentials.

Jerry I. Speyer
Founding partner, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Tishman Speyer, a real estate holding company. Also, #582 on Forbes list of billionaires.

Jes Staley
Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Stuart Match Suna
Director, The Creative Coalition Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social, and public advocacy organization.

Kathryn S. Wylde
President and chief executive officer of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization of the city’s business leaders, on the Board of New York Federal Reserve.

Strauss Zelnick
Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Boston Properties, Inc. Owner, President, Chief Editor and Chairman of the New York Daily News. Said to have consider a Republican Senate run in 2010.

Kinda makes Maggie's little money-laundering operation look kinda sad, don't you think?

One could say they own New York without hyperbole. Like in the case of Tishman Speyer Chair Jerry I. Speyer, whose company owns New York City icons Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building.

The highest hurdle to marriage equality in New York state will likely be acquiring the GOP votes necessary to make it happen. Wall Street Journal's Jacob Gershman reports, “No Republican has voiced support for same-sex marriage, while at least two have indicated that their position isn't settled.” Five GOP Assembly members voted for marriage equality in the lower house in 2009. Fortunately, there are definitely some voices in this crowd that carry weight in Republican circles.

It's lovely to lobby GOP Senators on the idea of equality under the law and the fulfillment of that promise to all Americans. 

But this obviously reflects an canny attempt to craft a marriage equality argument that Republicans may find more relatable. There is a sense of deference among many Americans that business knows smart policy, particularly in conservative circles. 

If we truly ran government like a business we'd probably already have marriage equality. Businesses tend to consult the data more often than the Bible on these decisions.  

Of the Fortune 500, 89% percent prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and 57% provide domestic partner health insurance benefits to their employees (as opposed to 10% of states). Up the ladder, the numbers improve, of the Fortune 10, 8 prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and 7 provide partner health benefits.

Big business is a friend to LGBT equality more often than not. Engineering the addition of their voice to the grassroots chorus was a smart move.

Regardless of the tangible balance sheet benefits (which are ultimately unquantifiable), this serves up a useful talking point for Senators to explain their vote. They were only thinking of the economy. The CEO of Viacom said it was good for business! You wouldn't want Goldman Sachs to be sad, would you?

And a Government policy crippling big business' ability to attract top talent in the state? Gosh, that sounds downright unAmurikan!

And it's not just me impressed by advocates' efforts. Even before this development a seasoned New York Republican campaign strategist recently praised the marriage equality campaign in New York. Bill O'Reilly (famous name, different guy) who worked on Republican Harry Wilson's 2010 State Comptroller race, says in this blog post, Hat's Off to Gay Marriage Campaign:


Is anyone else watching with awe the masterful public relations campaign for gay marriage in New York unfold? It’s a real beaut, and communications students would be wise to study it.

 

He's impressed with not only the diversity of the ad subjects, in ideology, race, age, walks of life, but also the very simple messaging and non-confrontational style.

The mix of supporters was a brilliant blend.  All likable people, touching all necessary demographics.  But more importantly, the ads were not forced.  They were neither angry, nor in your face.  They just began laying out a background conversation, without riling up opposition.

I'm inclined to agree, at this moment a cooling of the rhetoric could be a way to reduce the impression this is a such a “controversial issue.” We know from inside reports our opponents are bending over backwards to paint gays as crazy people. 

O'Reilly concludes:

Today it was announced that long-time Republican state senate communications director John McArdle – a pro among pros in Albany  – has been retained by the marriage equality coalition to help lock down votes and messaging in the now Republican senate.  It was the perfect hire.

The pieces of this puzzle look to be fitting together nicely. Whether you  agree with gay marriage or not – I do – you have to tip your cap to a campaign well run.  There is nothing clumsy about this one. Nothing at all.

The pieces do appear to be well placed in the Empire State. But that is no reason to relax. 

We know from California, we know from Maine, we know from Maryland, we know from Rhode Island, our opponents play a very good game as the clock ticks down to the wire. 

Let's make sure we're ready. We can't let the heavy-hitters do the heavy lifting. It's time for every New Yorker to engage. (So the gays can get engaged.) Please make a commitment to get two friends to call their Assembly Reps and Senators to voice support. New Yorkers United For Marriage has a tool to make it easy.

Let's win one for the left in these dark times.

Update: Maggie Gallagher's good friend, Peter LaBarbera, the gay-sex obsessed pervert that runs the group Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (and also known at “The Peter”) weighs in to call these people “moral midgets.”

Good luck making enemies about of people like Ronald Perelman and Mort Zuckerman.

 

CommunityMy FDL

Titans of New York Business Call On Albany: “Let The Gays Be Wed!”


© Roger Schultz

As announced last Wednesday in the New York Times, two dozen of the state's top business leaders have released an open letter to Albany legislators urging them to pass the marriage equality bill that will soon come to a vote.

To remain competitive, New York must continue to contend with other world cities to attract top talent. Increasingly, in an age where talent determines the economic winners, great states and cities must demonstrate a commitment to creating an open, healthy and equitable environment in which to live and work.

This is why it is so important that New York State grant full rights to all of its citizens by passing marriage equality.

I don't employ hyperbole lightly, but I will use it where appropriate. And “Titans” is a pretty accurate word to describe the list of 23 signatories that includes the past and present CEOs and top executives of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Revlon, Viacom, Reuters and a wide variety of finance, real estate, media, law and other professions. With only a few exceptions they all have dedicated profile pages on Forbes.com. How many of us can say that?

And it should be noted, the list also includes more than a few well-known Republicans.

Kudos to New Yorkers United For Marriage, the coalition of advocates that successfully enlisted our friends in the world of business to stump for the cause. The full letter after the fold.

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Titans of New York Business Call On Albany: "Let The Gays Be Wed!"