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Bush, Rove, Gays and the Goldman Sachs Crowd -- Does Henry Paulson Support Gay Marriage?

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Message John McDonald
I guess the only thing I am surprised about is that it took Karl Rove this long.

With the Fall elections posing a looming disaster, Rove has reached into his black bag and pulled out the old Gay Marriage trick. Fresh on the heels of his success at fanning the flames of the Senate debate on the Gay Marriage amendment, he has apparently once again convinced the President to take up the cause. The Associated Press and others are reporting that President Bush will hold a White House Rose Garden press event Monday to press for passage of the constitutional amendment banning marriage between gays. It's funny how the President hasn't mentioned the issue since the last election.

One might think the President might have other issues to contend with, say, maybe the war in Iraq, or, a faltering economy. But apparently the issue of gay marriage is a major threat to the future of America. Maybe the NSA, while they were listening in on some phone calls, found out about a gay terrorist plot to force young boys to marry and move to Ohio.

For a moment there I was almost hopeful that Bush, with his public support reaching record lows, might be changing his ways. Earlier this week, in a move seen by many as an effort to reassure the stocks and bond crowd about a faltering market, the President nominated Henry M. Paulson, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, to serve as Treasury Secretary. Paulson is widely thought to be what some might refer to as a member of the "reality-based community," and the nomination was well received by many political and financial leaders.

But that moment of light didn't last long. We weren't even into a next news cycle before the White House began to leak reports of Bush's pending comments on the Gay Marriage Amendment, hoping to lather up the base by bashing gays.

Which got me to wondering if Henry M. Paulson really knows what he is getting himself into. Already, the Paulson nomination is under attack by right-wing members of the Bush base. Apparently they are concerned because he likes birds and thinks that melting the planet might be bad for business. Wait until they find out that during his tenure at Goldman Sachs the company developed policies friendly to gays.

According to Vault, a career information services publication, Goldman Sachs was the first investment bank to host a gay recruiting dinner, and other sources report that the company actively participates in Gay and Lesbian recruitment efforts such as the Reaching Out Conference. GS was also among the first investment companies to offer benefits to "domestic partners" of Gay employees. And according to the Goldman Sachs website, as part of the firms commitment to diversity, GS supports a Gay and Lesbian employees network. ranked the Goldman Sachs Group as among the top 20 big companies to work for in 2003.

I don't know what Paulson's personal position is on Gay marriage, but it is clear that, in an effort to maintain a competitive edge, Goldman Sachs has made a significant effort to recruit highly talented gay and lesbian employees. Given that, I wonder if Paulson would agree with the Brian Rolfes, a partner at McKensie & Company's Canadian Office, who, told a group of gay and lesbian MBA students attending a major recruiting event that by allowing gay marriage "Canadian companies and offices held a competitive advantage over their American counterparts in attracting talented Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans-sexual employees." (Rolfes comments were reported in a publication of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.)

If so, given that Paulson's new job is to make the American economy thrive, shouldn't he be working to make sure that American companies are as competitive as possible by encouraging support of Gay marriage? Maybe somebody should ask him.

And as for Karl Rove and President Bush, they might want to remember that their "base" also includes a lot of rich Republicans who just want to make more money, and not just a bunch of bigots who want to deny gays their civil rights and the equal protection of the law.
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John McDonald is a writer and consultant in Los Angeles.
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