Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, has become the first business leader to join a national campaign for same-sex marriage, Reuters reported.
Blankfein has been recruited by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national organization that advocates for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, to speak out in favor of marriage equality.
Fred Sainz, an executive with the HRC, told the New York Times that the organization chose Blankfein partly because he is “an unexpected messenger.”
“Lloyd Blankfein is not someone average Americans would think is going to support marriage equality,” Mr. Sainz said. “The green visor crowd is not typically associated with socially progressive policies, and this is further proof that a diversity of Americans are coming to the same conclusion.”
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Blankfein, who has been the chief of Goldman Sachs since 2006, is not new to advocating for same-sex rights, The Advocate reported. In 2011, he signed an open letter from business leaders calling for gay marriage in New York.
"America's corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and it's the right thing to do," Blankfein said in the video, which was posted to YouTube on Thursday.
The Goldman CEO is putting himself in the midst of a politically charged issue at a time when his public persona is suffering, the Times reported. He has been heavily criticized in recent years for rewarding the risk-taking that led to the financial crisis.
Blankfein declined to comment on the new campaign, but he reportedly expressed interest soon after after being approached by HRC through a gay Goldman executive in November 2011, according to the Times.
The Human Rights Campaign has had many prominent spokespeople in the past, including Barbara Bush and Steve Tisch, a businessman and co-owner of the New York Giants, according to the Times. Neward Mayor Cory A. Booker and comedian and actress Mo’Nique have also participated in this campaign, but Blankfein is the first corporate figure to represent the organization.
Gay marriage remains outlawed in more than 40 of the 50 US states, Reuters reported. The issue will most likely be one of the focuses of the 2012 presidential race.
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