Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Press Release

Madison, Wisconsin

August 7, 2006


"Economic Development Impacts Cited As Board of Directors of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Announces Opposition to Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage"




Link to Press Release:





From: Jennifer R Alexander []
Sent: Monday, August 07, 2006 1:50 PM
Subject: GMCC Board of Directors Takes Position on Constitutional Amendment


Monday, August 7, 2006


Dear GMCC Member:


Citing concerns about economic development impacts, the Board of Directors of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) has decided to oppose Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning civil unions and same sex marriage.


During the GMCC Board meeting, it became very apparent that this issue is an economic development/jobs issue as well as a deeply personal and social issue. The Board chose to steer clear of those latter two reasons and focused its discussion on Greater Madison's needs to compete unfettered in the global market for growth and jobs.  This requires us to 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.


The Board’s view solidified after hearing from major, local employers who currently either experience problems with employee recruitment and retention due to legislatively imposed limits on employee benefits, or expect to incur additional recruitment hurdles if the constitutional ban is adopted by voters in November.  


Here is an email excerpt received from one GMCC member: 


“……At best, it limits the abilities of businesses to make decisions about benefits and worse, limits the potential pool of candidates that Madison and Wisconsin businesses can attract to our state.  Those cities with the most vibrant business communities, regardless of economic policies, embrace social progressivism for reasons on a number of levels.  It is important to state that the business community of Madison wants to attract the most talented cadre of workers, especially in light of our historic position to become one of the most important places in the international markets for biotechnology business, and that they will stand against those measures that limit that ability in a very clear way.”


It is the second clause of the proposed amendment which raises the concern about the impacts on economic development.  It reads, “……a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”  The Board believes this could limit employers’ ability to provide benefits to unmarried employees and their partners, regardless of whether the couple were same-sex or heterosexual. 


Many of today’s recent college graduates decide where to live prior to obtaining long-term employment.  One of several things important in their location search is a diverse community which readily accepts individuals’ differences.  Both businesses and the public sector in the Greater Madison Area actively recruit nationwide in the race to secure the “best and brightest” individuals.  If the talent pool is artificially constrained, our odds of gaining these future leaders are greatly reduced. 


Although it was not the deciding factor, the Board also reviewed the results of the recent GMCC membership poll prior to finalizing their position. 


The poll asked members how they would vote on the Wisconsin constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage if the vote was held today.  The on-line question was answered by 14.7% of those receiving a copy of the poll.  Two-thirds of the respondents oppose the constitutional amendment.  Of the one-third supporting the civil union and same-sex marriage ban, 7.4% acknowledged concerns about possible economic impacts if it is approved by voters in November.  Approximately 4% of those responding were undecided.


CLICK HERE to view a copy of today’s press release explaining the GMCC Board of Directors position.


If you have questions or comments about the GMCC Board of Director’s position on the constitutional amendment, please either contact me via reply email or reach Delora Newton, Director of Public Policy, at 443-1947 or




Jennifer Alexander, President

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce



 > News Updates > GMCC PR 8-07-06