Posted: Mar 9, 2013 9:52 PM by CBS News
(CBS News) For Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, same-sex marriage is a business issue.
Nearly 300 of the country's biggest companies are among those urging the Supreme Court to strike down restrictions on same-sex marriage. The justices are expected to take up a two cases March 27, one seeking to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the other challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage.
"It's a civil-rights issue, but it's also a business issue," Blankfein told CBS MoneyWatch Editor-at-Large Jill Schlesinger.
Blankfein was the first leader in corporate America to take a public stand supporting same-sex marriage in a commercial recorded early last year for the Human Rights Campaign. He calls it an important issue because he sees how it relates to recruiting and retaining people at the firm.
"The ability for employment benefits to be shared among spouses, the ability to move people who are dependent on visas for trailing spouses, all hinges on being able to deal with families of gay people in the same way that you deal with families of straight people," said Blankfein. "Otherwise, they can't move around. People are not happy, and we can't attract a whole set of very talented people."
But, personally, Blankfein said he wants people who are gay to feel comfortable at Goldman.
"Even if it's comfortable here, it might not be comfortable, you know, a hundred yards from this place, and, for all I know, there are still people, today, who are living lives burdened by not being able to reveal who they really are and are living in a state of discomfort," said Blankfein. "That is really unfortunate, and I feel sorry. I don't know who they are, but there has to be someone. I feel sorry for them, and I am not yet saying that we are in a world where everything is easy for everybody."
Blankfein's support for same-sex marriage hasn't come without losses to the firm. One big client with a religious affiliation reportedly pulled its business from Goldman.
"I heard we lost a client, but I understood why," he said. "I mean, this particular issue is part of the core tenets of the group that's behind this pool of money, and I understood completely why they did it. I didn't like it, but I understood it. And, by the way, they understood why we were taking the position that we did. So, I'm not saying we're not friends, but we're not managing their money."
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