Editorial: Minnesota sends a message to corporate America

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Congratulations, Minnesota, on doing the right thing when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage. You just sent a message to the rest of the United States: Minnesota is a good place to do business.

That’s right. Same-sex marriage is not just about civil rights and being on the right side of history. It also is about attracting talent to work here. We talk all the time in state politics about business incentives to create jobs in Minnesota, but inclusiveness, too, is an incentive for companies.

This is what Brad Smith, Microsoft’s executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, wrote in February about a proposed same-sex marriage law in Washington state:

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“As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families.”

His words were printed in USA Today’s Money section and shared on CNBC.

Those who were surprised last summer at General Mills coming out in favor of gay marriage in Minnesota haven’t been paying attention to corporate America.

“We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy,” CEO Ken Charles was quoted by the Star Tribune as saying.

From Amazon to T-Mobile, companies want to attract and retain talented employees, whether they are gay or straight. It’s just good business.

Sure, it’s not all. Chic-fil-A is the most well-known company that opposes gay marriage.

But when New York sought to legalize gay marriage, Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the Liberty Education Forum and chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans of New York, described a broad base of companies that favored the measure.

“These business leaders used the cachet of their status and the pulpit afforded to them by the nature of their position to underscore the fact that marriage for all citizens of the state would be good for business, attract and retain qualified employees and ultimately lead to more revenues for New York,” Angelo said in that USA Today story last February.

It’s ironic that when the measure to ban gay marriage was placed on the ballot, critics accused the Minnesota Legislature of ignoring the real issue of jobs. Maybe somehow the lawmakers knew Minnesotans would reject the amendment and send a message to the business world: We want businesses to have happy, talented employees.