MINNEAPOLIS, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A constitutional amendment bill that would discriminate against same-sex couples is the wrong choice for putting Minnesota back on track, according to a leading Minnesota business leader and other advocates. Minnesota Republican legislators proposed the amendment during a Capitol press conference this afternoon.
"In so many ways, this constitutional amendment is bad for Minnesota employers and a distraction from the real priority for the state: growing the economy," said Charlie Zelle, CEO of Jefferson Bus Lines and chair of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Instead, we need to move Minnesota forward by pursuing policies that are good for business, good for all Minnesota families and will make our state stronger and more competitive."
The proposed constitutional amendment runs counter to that sentiment. The proposal would define marriage solely as between one man and one woman and would place that definition permanently in the Minnesota Constitution if voters approve it on the 2012 ballot.
"The proposed amendment is anti-jobs, anti-business and anti-family," said Ann Kaner-Roth, executive director of Project 515. "A wealth of research finds that inclusion strengthens the economy and Minnesota employers know it. That's why they are leading the way by implementing inclusive policies in the workplace. We hope state leaders will remember that equality is an advantage."
Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, agreed.
"Even though the Legislature has critical budgetary issues that need to be addressed, they are taking valuable time to introduce a constitutional amendment that would discriminate against Minnesotans," she said. "This is completely counter to the direction public opinion is moving. Plus, this constitutional amendment is redundant. Minnesota already has a law in place defining marriage. This proposal takes our state in the wrong direction and tarnishes our constitution with discrimination that Minnesotans don't support."
Extensive research and community momentum shows that inclusive policies strengthen the economy and are supported:
- Inclusion improves financial performance — Employers with engaged workers have 2.6 times more earnings per share growth and twice the annual net income compared to other companies; inclusive policies are among the strongest indicators of engagement. (http://www.gallup.com/consulting/52/Employee-Engagement.aspx, www.kenexaresearchinstitute.com)
- Diversity strengthens communities — "Cities that offer a high quality of life and who best accommodate diversity enjoy the greatest success in talent attraction/retention and in growth of technology-intensive economic activities." (Florida, et al. Competing on Creativity, 2002) Communities that welcome diversity enjoy more attachment from residents, and cities with the highest rates of attachment had the highest rates of GDP growth. (Knight Foundation/Gallup Survey and Report, www.soulofthecommunity.org)
- Employers are leading — More than 290 Minnesota employers offer domestic partner benefits, including 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies located in the state. (Human Rights Campaign 2010 Corporate Equality Index, www.hrc.org/issues/workplace/benefits.asp)
- Cities and other states are taking steps — Many Minnesota cities have implemented domestic partner registries and 21 states/jurisdictions (including Iowa, Wisconsin and Canada) provide at least some legal recognition of domestic partners.
- Minnesotans believe an amendment is unnecessary — 71 percent of Minnesotans believe that because "Minnesota already has a law banning same-sex marriage, we don't need a constitutional amendment." In addition, 74 percent of Minnesotans believe policymakers should focus on the economy and creating jobs instead of spending time on social issues. (2011 statewide poll, Decision Resources, Ltd.)
"The evidence is overwhelming and compelling: policies that promote inclusion and equal treatment are what Minnesotans expect and deserve," said Kaner-Roth.
Meanwhile, Zelle is urging state legislators to stay focused on policies that encourage growth in all areas of the economy.
"Minnesota's CEOs and small business owners alike need state lawmakers to stay focused on placing Minnesota's economy and business environment back on track," Zelle said. "A constitutional amendment against full inclusion is not only a distraction but would create a significant setback for Minnesota businesses."
Instead, creating a state and business environment that welcomes diversity is critical.
"Now is the time for business and other leaders to speak up," Zelle said. "This constitutional amendment is counterproductive. People have a choice about where they work and with whom they do business. So employers — and the state — need to be inclusive to be competitive."
About Project 515 — Founded in 2007 by Minnesotans who believe all families should be treated equally under the law, Project 515's public awareness and advocacy efforts at the Capitol have helped change the debate about fairness. The non-profit organization is named for the number of existing Minnesota statutes that mandate treatment for married couples but exclude same-sex couples who cannot marry under state law. For more information, go to www.project515.org.
About OutFront Minnesota — OutFront Minnesota is the state's premier organization advocating for and serving LGBT Minnesotans. OutFront Minnesota is leading Minnesota toward LGBT equality through a combination of public policy, legal and individual advocacy and education that is unmatched by any other organization. For information go to www.outfront.org.
SOURCE Project 515 and OutFront Minnesota