The national public policy outlet Stateline Daily has a story on same-sex marriage today that features the debate in North Carolina. According to the report, big businesses are weighing in increasing numbers throughout the country in favor of marriage equality and against proposals like North Carolina’s controversial Amendment One.
The article begins with a case study from Washington state — a place where business support was critical in getting same sex marriage approved. It goes on to note:
“Support from businesses has also been important in other states that have debated gay marriage, including New York, which voted to legalize it in 2011, and Maryland, which, like Washington State, legalized gay marriage in February but faces a referendum effort to put the issue before voters.
The driving force behind business involvement has less to do with the money that gay people might spend in the state than with workforce concerns. As more states move toward legalizing gay marriage, more businesses fear being left behind in places seen as backward by gay workers and other young employees who feel strongly about the issue.
‘If you’re sending a signal to the world that you’re biased, it doesn’t just scare away gay people,’ says Stephen Dull, vice president for strategy and innovation at the North Carolina-based VF Corporation, a Fortune 500 company. ‘It scares away everyone.’”
The article goes on to quote Dull for the proposition that the amendment will, if passed, make it harder to recruit smart people to our state:
“North Carolina voters will consider on May 8 whether to put the state’s existing ban on gay marriage in the state constitution. If that happens, Dull says, it will be even tougher than it already is to recruit the mobile, metropolitan, high-level employees the company is looking to attract for its Greensboro headquarters. VF is the parent company to a host of high-profile fashion brands, including The North Face, Nautica, Lee and Lucy. VF has not taken a public stand in favor of gay marriage, but many of its employees have.
Dull says he already has to reassure many of his potential recruits that they wouldn’t be moving to a place that is straight out of the rural South of a generation ago. ‘If this were going on when I was recruited, I don’t think I could have joined,’ says Dull. ‘It’s not that we’re trying to recruit gay talent, but people see it as a sign of how welcome their ideas will be, no matter how different. And that’s important for innovation.’”