Illinois Business Leaders Endorse Marriage Equality
Business leaders in Illinois have come out in support of a same-sex marriage bill after state lawmakers failed to get traction on the proposed legislation, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Several high profiled Illinois business executives from around the state wrote a joint open letter to lawmakers explaining why gay marriage would increase the state's employment and economy.
"To be competitive, a state must create an equitable, fair and respectful environment for all of its citizens," the letter reads. "For this reason - among others - it is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon."
Signers of the letter included officials from Google, Orbitz Worldwide and Groupon; CEOs Desiree Rogers of Johnson Publishing; Lance Chody, of Garrett Popcorn Shops; Fred Eychaner, of the Newsweb Corp.; and Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. The Tribune notes that Eychaner and Ricketts are both out business leaders.
"States with the metro areas of New York City, Seattle, Boston, and Baltimore have already legalized marriage equality," the letter reads. "Here in the Midwest, Iowa has granted full marriage equality, while Minnesota is poised to do the same later this year. Illinois simply cannot afford to be less competitive than other states."
The proposed marriage-equality bill has been slammed by Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago. "The state has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible," he said.
Additionally, as the Tribune notes, Muslim, Mormon, Missouri Synod Lutheran and conservative Anglican groups have come together to urge politicians not to pass the proposed bill, even though is takes pains to exempt religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex marriages.
On the other side, 260 Illinois clergy members released a letter strongly urging passage of the bill. Most signers are members of more liberal denominations such as Unitarians, Reform Jews and Episcopalians.
The criticism from religious leaders in the state did not stop John Rowe, chairman emeritus of energy producer Exelon from signing the letter. He cited having attended a friend's same-sex wedding in New York last year as having convinced him to endorse marriage equality.
"We saw how moving it was for them, and I suppose that's part of what caused me to say 'Why deny one group this moment of faith and hope and celebration that everybody else has?'" Rowe said.
In a surprising development, Pat Brady, the chairman of Illinois' Republican Party, has also endorsed marriage equality. The conservative politician has unsurprisingly come under fire from fellow Republicans. Some are even calling for his resignation.