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Business moguls pen letter endorsing same sex marriage

By Leigh Remizowski, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Executives release a letter lobbying NY state legislators to legalize same-sex marriage
  • The group argues that current law is hurting the state's ability to attract qualified workers
  • The 23 signers include the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and Con Edison
  • A proposal to legalize same-sex marriage failed in the state Senate in 2009

New York (CNN) -- A group of top executives released a letter Friday lobbying New York state legislators to legalize same-sex marriage -- a decision they said is not only fair, but also makes good business sense.

The group of moguls -- which includes the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Con Edison and Thompson Reuters, among 23 others -- argued that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is hurting the state's ability to attract qualified workers.

"As New Yorkers and business leaders, we believe that attracting talent is key to our state's economic future," the letter reads. "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."

The state Senate rejected a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009.

The letter is not addressed to any one party and is titled, "An open letter from business leaders on the importance of marriage equality." It warns that as other places around the globe legalize same sex marriage, New York will become a less appealing destination for anyone seeking the same "benefits and protections."

"Increasingly, in an age where talent determines the economic winners, great states and cities must demonstrate a commitment to creating an open, healthy and equitable environment in which to work and live," it reads.

Other notable signers include Jes Staley, CEO of JP Morgan's Investment Bank; John J. Mack, executive chairman of the board of Morgan Stanley and Daniel L. Doctoroff, president of Bloomberg L.P.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a vocal proponent of allowing same-sex couples in New York to marry since he took office in January. In March, he released a statement saying that he was in the midst of a series of meetings to discuss a marriage equality bill.

"Same-sex couples deserve the right to join in civil marriage, and it is simply unfair to deny them the freedom to make this decision for themselves and their families," he said in the March statement. "I look forward to working with lawmakers and stakeholders to make sure that New York joins the growing number of states that allow the freedom to marry for all couples."

Five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire -- and the District of Columbia currently grant same sex marriage licenses.

While New York does not grant same-sex marriages, a 2008 appellate court ruling upheld the right of couples to have their same-sex marriage recognized if they have them performed elsewhere.

Friday's letter comes less than one week after a prominent private law firm hired by House Speaker John Boehner to represent the government in the federal Defense of Marriage Act suddenly pulled out of the case.

The chairman of Atlanta-based King & Spalding said Monday the firm's internal vetting for accepting representation was "inadequate."

The decision was considered a victory for gay-rights supporters who have tried to have the Defense of Marriage Act repealed or tossed out in court on constitutional grounds.

The Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996 by the GOP-controlled Congress and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton.

It bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and says states cannot be forced to recognize such marriages allowed in other states.

The Obama administration, which normally would defend federal laws in judicial disputes, announced earlier this year it believed the Defense of Marriage Act, often referred to as DOMA, to be unconstitutional.

The law defines marriage for federal purposes as unions only between a man and woman.

 
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