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Business leaders urge Illinois lawmakers to pass marriage equality bill

Monday, January 14, 2013
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A coalition consisting of fifty Illinois business leaders and organizations on Sunday joined in urging the state’s General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would grant gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry.

The support represents a broad array of economic sectors, including manufacturing, financial services, energy, lodging, publishing and advertising.

In a public letter to the General Assembly, the signers cited the economic and business reasons for passing marriage equality legislation, and said that marriage equality would strengthen the workforces of Illinois employers and attract additional economic development.

“To be competitive, a state must create an equitable, fair and respectful environment for all of its citizens,” the supporters wrote. “For this reason – among others — it is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon.”

The supporters include such companies as Google Inc. and Orbitz Worldwide Inc., as well as many noteworthy business leaders. (Letter and complete list is here.)

Equality Illinois, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, applauded the effort.

“These business leaders make fact-driven decisions everyday and are motivated by logic and reason. They see no reason to deny loving, committed couples equal access to the benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage. At the same time, they acknowledge that in their offices, factories, stores, restaurants and hotels, a diverse workforce is essential for success,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

“These national brands and executives support marriage equality and value diversity, and Illinois has to answer to that when the companies look for new places to do business,” said Cherkasov. “The demands of our modern, interconnected business world should lead Illinois lawmakers to join the right side of history.”

Earlier this month, Illinois came closer to becoming the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. A Senate committee voted 8-5 during the lame-duck session in favor of the bill, but with key supporters absent, Senate Democrats delayed a full floor vote.

Now that the new legislators have been sworn in, sponsors of the bill say it’s only a matter of time before it appears on the floor for a vote.

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