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Business Leaders Lobby for Marriage in N.Y.

Business Leaders Lobby for Marriage in N.Y.

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As the push for marriage equality in New York picks up, the conversation turns to economics as a group of prominent business leaders releases an open letter urging state lawmakers to pass a bill.

The New York Times reports on the letter from two dozen high-profile business leaders including Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd C. Blankfein; hedge fund executive Paul E. Singer; Morgan Stanley chairman John Mack; and Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the publisher of the New York Daily News.

The letter dated April 28 argues that enacting marriage equality would help New York attract and retain top talent in the global marketplace, in addition to upholding equality.

"Many employers have adopted non-discrimination policies and extended domestic partner benefits long before most cities and states passed them into law," says the letter. "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."

An appeal from business leaders could prove especially helpful in courting senate Republicans, a handful of whom are needed to support the bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants passed by June. Every Republican voted against marriage equality when it failed in the state senate in 2009.

The letter opens a new conversation, where economics have yet to become a focus in this year's advocacy. A report from the city comptroller in 2007 estimated that marriage equality would bring $184 million in spending to the state and net $142 million for the local economy within three years.

Earlier this week, Crain's New York Business reported that major business groups such as the Business Council of New York State had not been won over by economic arguments, citing the controversy among some segments of the customer base. Advocates expected to focus on rallying individuals businesses instead.

State senator Joseph Addabbo, a Democrat who voted against the bill two years ago but now calls himself undecided, told Crain's that the "economic benefit argument won't sway my vote." He said he would look to his Queens constituents for direction on the issue.

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