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Thomson Reuters lines up against gay marriage ban

/ 08:30 AM July 14, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — The legal, business information and media company Thomson Reuters said Friday that an amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota would be bad for business.

Prominent companies including General Mills and St. Jude Medical spoke out earlier against the proposed amendment, which goes to the voters in November. Minnesota already has a law against gay marriage, but gay marriage opponents say the amendment is necessary to put the ban in the state constitution.

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In a statement, Thomson Reuters said it doesn’t believe the amendment “would be good for Thomson Reuters or the business community in the state.”

Spokesman John Shaughnessy said Thomson Reuters, headquartered in New York City, has almost 8,000 employees in Minnesota, most based in the Minneapolis suburb of Eagan, and 60,000 around the world. “We believe the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, if passed, would limit our ability to recruit and retain top talent,” several Minnesota-based company executives wrote in an email to employees.

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The company, which includes Reuters news agency, tried to clarify why it was weighing in on the issue, saying its statement was not a political or religious position. “Rather, our perspective on the Amendment is a business position,” the email said.

Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University and expert on media ethics, said he saw no problem with the larger company taking a position on a controversial social issue.

“If they’d come out and said, we’re against this amendment and that’s the way we’re going to edit the news — that would be different,” Rosen said. “But that’s not what they said.”

Many news outlets are owned by larger conglomerates that lobby on various political issues, Rosen said. The company, known at the time as Thomson, acquired Minnesota’s West Publishing — a leading U.S. provider of legal information — in 1996. It acquired Reuters, including its news service, in 2008.

Minnesotans United for All Families, the group working to defeat the amendment, hailed the company’s decision.

“More and more, companies in Minnesota are standing up and saying that this hurtful amendment is not in the best interests of businesses, families or the state of Minnesota,” Richard Carlbom, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Minnesota for Marriage, the chief campaign group supporting the amendment, has been trying to discourage prominent Minnesota companies from taking sides.

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“The claim that it will hurt the Minnesota economy is a complete myth,” said Chuck Darrell, the group’s spokesman.

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