Businesses Throw Support Behind Marriage Equality

Gay rights advocates are welcoming a new ally to their fight for marriage equality: America’s business leaders. Businesses are showing support for gay marriage in greater numbers because, for them, it’s good business.
Many large corporations are publicly showing support for gay marriage arguing that it helps broaden their customer base and increase diversity. In a public letter, Illinois business leaders encourage state legislators to pass marriage equality laws.
“To be competitive, a state must create an equitable, fair and respectful environment for all of its citizens. For this reason–among others–it is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon,” according to the letter. It was signed by executives from Groupon (GRPN), Barclays Bank and J.P. Morgan (JPM), among others.
The letter also suggests the need to reach out to more potential employees through open support of gay marriage which would in turn help companies connect with an increasingly diverse world. Helping to promote that connection is Witeck Communications, Inc., a Washington, D.C., marketing firm that counsels Fortune 500 companies on how to connect with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) families and individuals. The firm helps companies by providing marketing strategies and creating targeted messages to help companies become more inclusive of LGBT communities in a respectful way. Bob Witeck, founder of Witeck Communications, thinks changing attitudes, particularly among younger Americans, are fueling businesses to become more openly supportive of gay marriage.
“There has been a big change in America, even though our system seems like it has been in a gridlock,” he said. He argued that businesses are becoming more aligned with America’s changing attitudes toward gay marriage and LGBT rights.
Witeck recalls that 20 years ago when he started his marketing firm the business atmosphere was different, and many businesses thought it was too risky to engage with the gay community.
“Attitudes have changed over time,” Witeck said. “The rewards are greater than the risks these days.”
Those rewards can include $790 billion for businesses, the estimated buying power of the LGBT community, according to a 2012 analysis by Witeck Communications. Although much of the public support for marriage equality has come from large national corporations, small businesses can benefit as well.
“Absolutely, definitely. We totally support it,” said Nick Wasylczuck, owner of Just Paper + Tea, a local stationary shop in Georgetown. Wasylczuck says his business specifically will benefit from marriage equality because of the nature of their work.
“We specialize in wedding invitations so it definitely helps us there,” he said.
Wasylczuck also hopes that more business owners and people in general will begin to show more support for gay marriage.
“We do support it, the union between two people. It doesn’t matter who,” he said. “We would like to see more people be supportive of it as well.