Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Opposes the Ban

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against the civil unions and marriage ban. This is the press release they issued today:
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: Economic Development Impacts Cited As Board of Directors of the GMCC Announces Opposition to Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage
8/7/2006

Contact: Freya Reeves
608-443-1952

August 7, 2006 (Madison, WI) - Citing concerns about economic development impacts, the Board of Directors of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) announces its opposition to Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning civil unions, same sex marriage and other legal arrangements substantially similar to marriage for unmarried individuals.

During the last GMCC Board meeting, it became clear that passage of this amendment would have major ramifications on economic development and workforce attraction/retention. The Board understands that this issue goes beyond matters of economic development, having social and personal implications about which many feel deeply. The Board chose to base its decision on the need for the Greater Madison area to compete unfettered in the global marketplace for growth opportunities and talent.

“We must have the largest talent pool available to attract and choose from as the Greater Madison economy continues to expand via biotechnology and other research oriented activities,” said Jennifer Alexander, GMCC President.

Economic concerns are raised by the second clause of the proposed amendment, because the language may limit employers’ ability to provide benefits to unmarried employees and their partners, regardless of whether the couple is heterosexual or of the same sex.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of people who decide what community is attractive to them before initiating a job search,” said Jim Imhoff, Jr., CEO of First Weber and a GMCC Board Member. “The type of young professionals Greater Madison area employers wish to attract and retain desire diversity. We need to make sure public policies create a welcoming environment for them,” said Imhoff.

Laurie Benson, CEO of Inacom Information Systems and a GMCC Board Member, agrees. “As leaders, it is important that we understand the impact of our decisions on our workforce. In order to optimally position our businesses and our state for a thriving economy, we must remove any barriers that could negatively impact our ability to attract and retain exceptional employees in Wisconsin,” said Benson.
The Chamber is a not-for-profit organization with 1200 member businesses, including some of the region's largest employers.

Three weeks ago, Downtown Madison Inc. also spoke out against the ban.

Today, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz applauded business leaders for taking a stand:
“In an economy that thrives on talented employees, sending any kind of message that is unwelcoming is a mistake. But if we can be the first state in the nation to turn back the tide of this kind of discrimination, Madison’s economy and Madison’s families will benefit.”
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