CHICAGO (STMW) — A group of 50 Illinois business leaders and organizations that includes Google, Orbitz, and Groupon, as well as the CEOs of Hyatt Hotels, Navistar, Morningstar, and Johnson Publishing, have come out in support of marriage equality in Illinois, with a letter telling the General Assembly that allowing same-sex marriage would, among other things, make Illinois more competitive when it comes to attracting top talent, as well as bringing millions of dollars into the state’s coffers.

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would allow gay and lesbian couples to get married in Illinois, if passed by the General Assembly could make Illinois the 10th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

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In their letter to the General Assembly, the group urged legislators to consider the economic advantages that passing marriage equality would have for the state. They cited a study from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, which states that allowing same-sex couples to marry would generate between $39 million and $72 million for Illinois businesses, creating $4.5 million to $8 million in new sales and lodging tax revenues over three years.

Those who signed the letter, released on Sunday, include: the Chicago Urban League; Google; Orbitz; Groupon; Bill Daley; Ron Huberman; J.B. Pritzker; Lance Chody, CEO of Garrett Popcorn Shops; Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Co.; John W. Rowe, Chairman Emeritus of Exelon Corp., and Joseph Mansueto, Founder and CEO of Morningstar, Inc.

The letter also said that passing marriage equality in Illinois would help make the state “attract top talent from around the world. Since human capital drives innovation and growth, a state must foster an environment where people want to live.”

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The letter added, “It is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon. Marriage equality would strengthen the workforces of Illinois employers, who know there is no substitute for employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Illinois simply cannot afford to be less competitive than other states. The Illinois legislature should act now. It’s the right thing for Illinois.”

Other states could add marriage equality to the books in 2013. Marriage equality bills have been recently introduced in the Rhode Island legislature. Legislators in Minnesota have pledged to push for it soon, and Delaware’s governor has said he expects the matter to be taken up in that state in 2013.

Illinois’ same-sex marriage bill is sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago). Illinois Unites for Marriage – a coalition led by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois – released Sunday’s letter.

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(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)