More than 40 Chicago business leaders speak out for gay-marriage law

Hoping to nudge stalled legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Illinois, a group of business leaders on Sunday framed their argument around this simple notion: It’s a smart business decision.

Local industry titans cited the ability to recruit top talent as a top reason to pass the legislation.

Attached to an open letter stating their common views were dozens of influential names, including: Neil G. Bluhm, founder and managing principal of Walton Street Capital, Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, J.B. Pritzker, co-founder of The Pritzker Group, and Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs.

In addition to the 43 individuals signing the letter, six companies and agencies also signed it, including Orbitz Worldwide and Groupon, both based in Chicago.

“Not to trivialize this, but to be sort of a throw back state that hasn’t figured out that this is a material incentive … it leaves us at a competitive disadvantage,” said Howard Tullman, president and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, who also endorsed the letter.

Marriage equality would promote a diverse workforce better able to connect with customers and would ultimately create a fair and competitive environment, the letter stated.

It also contends that places like New York, where gay marriage is legal, have a competitive edge over Illinois.

“It is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon,” the letter states.

Others who signed the letter are:

  • Chicago Urban League.
  • Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.
  • Google.
  • Knight Engineers & Architects.
  • Curt Bailey, president, Related Midwest.
  • Andrew Bluhm, founder and principal, Delaware Street Capital.
  • Norm Bobins, former CEO, LaSalle Bank; Chairman, PrivateBank and Trust Co.
  • Bill Brandt, president and CEO, Development Specialists, Inc.
  • Carole Brown, senior managing director, Barclays Capital.
  • Lewis B. Campbell, chairman and CEO, Navistar International.
  • Lance Chody, CEO, Garrett Popcorn Shops
  • Philip B. Clement, global chief marketing and communications officer, Aon.
  • William M. Daley.
  • Laura Desmond, CEO, Starcom Mediavest Group.
  • Fred Eychaner, chairman, Newsweb Corp.
  • Paul S. Fisher, president and CEO, CenterPoint Properties.
  • Albert M. Friedman, CEO and President, Friedman Properties, Ltd.
  • Peter Gottlieb, president, North Star Investment Management Corp.
  • David A. Helfand, CEO, Helix Funds.
  • Carrie Hightman, executive vice president and chief legal officer, NiSource Inc.
  • Fred Hoch, CEO, Illinois Technology Association.
  • Mark S. Hoplamazian, president and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corp.
  • Kym Hubbard, CIO and treasurer, Ernst & Young.
  • Ron Huberman, executive chair, TransitPro Logistics Inc.
  • William Lawless, President, The Gage & Henri Restaurants
  • Joseph Mansueto, founder and CEO, Morningstar Inc.
  • Matt Moog, founder and chairman, Built In Chicago.
  • Maura O’Hara, executive director, Illinois Venture Capital Association.
  • Sarah Pang, senior vice president, corporate communications and public affairs, CNA Financial Corp.
  • Richard S. Price, chairman and CEO, Mesirow Financial.
  • Quintin E. Primo III, chairman and CEO, Capri Capital Partners LLC.
  • Gigi Pritzker Pucker, OddLot Entertainment.
  • Doug Regan, Midwest regional director, J.P. Morgan.
  • Judith C. Rice, senior vice president, BMO Harris Bank.
  • Desiree Rogers, CEO, Johnson Publishing Co.
  • John W. Rogers, Jr., chairman and CEO, Ariel Investments LLC.
  • John W. Rowe, chairman emeritus, Exelon Corp.
  • Michael Sacks, CEO, Grosvenor Capital Management.
  • Harrison I. Steans, chairman of the executive committee, Financial Investments Corp.
  • Jay Stieber, executive vice president and general counsel, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc.
  • Rich Stoddart, president, Leo Burnett North America.
  • Estelle Walgreen, founder, Hispanically Speaking News.
  • Tony Weisman, Regional President, Digitas.

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