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Minnesotans United letter to Gov. Mark Dayton

Minnesotans United letter to Gov. Mark Dayton

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Minnesotans United letter to Gov. Mark Dayton
Minnesotans United letter to Gov. Mark Dayton

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Published by: Minnesota Public Radio on Apr 11, 2013
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 April 11, 2013Governor Mark Dayton130 State Capitol75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BlvdSaint Paul, MN 55155Speaker of the House Paul Thissen463 State Office Building100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr BlvdSaint Paul, MN 55155Majority Leader Tom Bakk 226 State Capitol75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BlvdSaint Paul, MN 55155Dear 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 availabletoday suggests that Minnesota and the rest of the country are moving on a journey toward the freedom to marryfor 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-sexmarriage. The highly-regarded Pew Research Center, in a survey conducted at about the same time, alsofound strong support for same-sex marriage. Two other points from the Pew survey are particularlynoteworthy:
 
According to Pew, “The long-term shift in the public’s views about same-sex marriage isunambiguous.” The most recent survey found that about 1-in-7 Americans have changed their opinionand now favor same-sex marriage.
 
The survey also found that two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) agree that same-sex couples shouldhave 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’sfirst-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 theultimate 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 theLegislature to ensure that all Minnesotans have the same freedom to marry the person they love by approving fullmarriage 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 youngtalent. Minnesota employers have known this for years. Minnesota’s largest and most successful companieshave 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’stop talent – not just gay and lesbian professionals, but today’s educated young workers who increasingly saythat living in welcoming communities is important.
 
Uncertainty undermines business planning. Uncertainty is inefficient and expensive. Consider the challengesof our multi-state and multi-national employers who increasingly will have to sort out a patchwork of stateand 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 tostart planning for the equality that is certain to come.
 
Marriage inequality makes some of our employees second-class citizens. Turnover and a loss of productivityare 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 areplacement 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 arecomplicated issues that deserve the time and attention of the legislature, this year and for years to come. Decisionsaffecting the economic future of all Minnesotans shouldn’t be held hostage to a single issue that has the potentialto dominate and disrupt legislative sessions for years to come.Marriage equality is not on the legislative agenda simply because Minnesota voters soundly defeated theconstitutional amendment which sought to limit the definition of marriage in November. That vote may haveaccelerated 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 employeesand 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 passinglegislation in 2013 that ensures gay and lesbian Minnesotans, at long last, have the freedom to marry the personthey love.

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