Illinois Business leaders say the freedom to marry will strengthen IL workforce

On Sunday, dozens of business leaders signed onto a letter endorsing the freedom to marry in Illinois, explaining that ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage would strengthen the workforce and increase economic development across the state. 

The letter, which includes leaders from the Chicago Cubs (Laura Ricketts, Director of the Cubs and Chairman of the Board of Chicago Cubs Charities, who is openly lesbian, pictured), Barclays Capital, North Star Investment Management Corporation, Groupon, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, J.P. Morgan, and Newsweb Corps, comes on the heels of the formation of Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition working to pass the freedom to marry through the IL legislature in 2013. Freedom to Marry is a proud member of the coalition.

Last week, lawmakers in both houses of the IL legislature introduced a marriage bill on the first day of the new General Assembly. In their letter, the business leaders called for swift passage of that bill. They write (Read the full document HERE):

To be competitive, a state must create an equitable, fair and respectful environment for all its citizens. For this reason - among others - it is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon.

Marriage equality would stengthen the workforces of Illinois employers, who know there is no substitute for employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Companies must understand a changing marketplace and be able to connect with their customers; having a diverse workforce is a part of that. That's one reason many employers have adopted non-discrimination policies and offer domestic partner benefits.

Marriage equality promotes economic development, too. According to the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, allowing same-sex couples to marry would generate between $39 million and $72 million in revenues for Illinois businesses, creating $4.5 million to $8 million in new sales and lodging tax revenues over three years.

The Illinois legislature should act now. It's the right thing for Illinois.

For the past year, same-sex couples in Illinois have been permitted to join together in civil union, which extends some - but not all - of the protections and responsibilities that marriage provides.

Learn more about the freedom to marry in Illinois, and check out Illinois Unites for Marriage online and on Facebook.  

(Photo by Hal Baim, Windy City Times