Business-Letter-04112013-Final by twincities


									April 11, 2013

Governor Mark Dayton
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Speaker of the House Paul Thissen
463 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Majority Leader Tom Bakk
226 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Dayton, Speaker Paul Thissen and Majority Leader Tom Bakk:

For the past two decades, our nation has debated the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The data available
today suggests that Minnesota and the rest of the country are moving on a journey toward the freedom to marry
for same-sex couples. A few examples of this momentum include:

    •   The tide of public opinion has continuously moved toward supporting the freedom to marry. Today, 58
        percent of all adult Americans think same-sex marriage should be legal, according to a March 2013 ABC
        News-Washington Post survey. Among young people, the survey found 81 percent support same-sex
        marriage. The highly-regarded Pew Research Center, in a survey conducted at about the same time, also
        found strong support for same-sex marriage. Two other points from the Pew survey are particularly
         According to Pew, “The long-term shift in the public’s views about same-sex marriage is
            unambiguous.” The most recent survey found that about 1-in-7 Americans have changed their opinion
            and now favor same-sex marriage.
         The survey also found that two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) agree that same-sex couples should
            have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples; just 30 percent disagree.

    •   Recent public votes on the issue show further the electorate’s growing support, including Minnesota’s
        first-in-the-country rejection of a constitutional amendment limiting the definition of marriage. Maine,
        Maryland and Washington voted in 2012 to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

    •   Additionally, actions by legislative bodies in very diverse states assure that full equality will be the
        ultimate destination. Today, marriage is legal in nine states as well as Washington, D.C. At least four
        states, including Minnesota, appear to be poised to address the issue legislatively in 2013.

The only remaining question is how long it will take us to arrive.
As Minnesota business people, we strongly believe that it is in our state’s long-term best interests for the
Legislature to ensure that all Minnesotans have the same freedom to marry the person they love by approving full
marriage equality in 2013. Supporting the freedom to marry is the right thing to do. It also is smart business.

The business case for equality and inclusion is compelling:

•   Discrimination is bad for business. A welcoming state is essential to recruiting and retaining the best young
    talent. Minnesota employers have known this for years. Minnesota’s largest and most successful companies
    have been the nation’s leaders in creating diverse workplaces and extending family benefits to domestic
    partners. This leadership has made our community a strong magnet for attracting and retaining the nation’s
    top talent – not just gay and lesbian professionals, but today’s educated young workers who increasingly say
    that living in welcoming communities is important.

•   Uncertainty undermines business planning. Uncertainty is inefficient and expensive. Consider the challenges
    of our multi-state and multi-national employers who increasingly will have to sort out a patchwork of state
    and federal laws affecting marriage. Yes, even if the Minnesota Legislature grants marriage equality this year,
    laws won’t be uniform across the country. But action this year gives Minnesota businesses the opportunity to
    start planning for the equality that is certain to come.

•   Marriage inequality makes some of our employees second-class citizens. Turnover and a loss of productivity
    are two of the consequences that come when some employees are denied rights that most of us take for
    granted, including family issues and end-of-life decisions among many others. Workplace policies aren’t a
    replacement for equal rights under the law.

We also believe there is a political urgency to granting the freedom to marry to same-sex couples this year.
Minnesota is at a critical crossroads on many issues, including taxes, spending and regulatory reform. These are
complicated issues that deserve the time and attention of the legislature, this year and for years to come. Decisions
affecting the economic future of all Minnesotans shouldn’t be held hostage to a single issue that has the potential
to dominate and disrupt legislative sessions for years to come.

Marriage equality is not on the legislative agenda simply because Minnesota voters soundly defeated the
constitutional amendment which sought to limit the definition of marriage in November. That vote may have
accelerated legislative consideration of the issue, but it would have arrived at the Capitol sooner rather than later
with or without last fall’s vote. This choice is before you now because it is the right thing to do, for our employees
and their families, for our companies’ business success and for the economic prosperity of all Minnesotans.

We urge the legislature to reaffirm Minnesota’s leadership in equality and economic opportunity by passing
legislation in 2013 that ensures gay and lesbian Minnesotans, at long last, have the freedom to marry the person
they love.










CC:          Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives
             Members of the Minnesota Senate

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