Meet John Taft, the Minnesota Republican CEO Leading the Corporate Charge Against the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment


Meet John Taft, a man that Pioneer Press reports as a "life-long Republican…the great-grandson of U.S. President William Howard Taft, as well as CEO of a brokerage that administers $227 billion in assets" and who is also leading the corporate charge against Minnesota's anti-gay marriage amendment because he has a daughter and a stepdaughter who are both lesbians.

Pioneer Press reports:

So Taft, chief executive of RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis, is working quietly behind the scenes, hoping to amass the safety in numbers that will allow Minnesota business leaders to say — in public — what they're now saying only in private.

"They don't want to be the first ones in the pool. Well, guess what? I jumped in the pool first. The water's just fine," Taft said in an interview at his downtown Minneapolis office.

"My goal is to have several hundred high-profile business executives declare themselves in opposition to the marriage amendment sometime between now and the election," Taft added. "And I am very confident we are going to be able to do that."

General Mills (last week, much to NOM's chagrin) and St. Jude Medical have both come out against the amendment. Taft hopes there are more to come.

So he's talking to his fellow CEOs to enlist their help, aided by business leaders like Carlson Cos. CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson and communications executive Tom Horner, a former political candidate.

They're pitching what Taft calls "the business case" for opposing the marriage amendment.

Taft argues that in today's competitive market, companies need to recruit the best talent; that gays and lesbians are "a critical source of quality employees"; and that Minnesota has long prospered by fostering a welcoming and inclusive culture — "the brand promise of Minnesota," Taft calls it.


  1. Rick says

    It was Republican money that financed the campaign in favor of same-sex marriage that resulted in a bill being passed in New York. And in Minnesota, as elsewhere, if we succeed, it will be because of bipartisan support of the sort that this gentleman represents.

    Trying to ghettoize gay people in one political party, as many activists seek to do, is foolhardy and counter-productive.

  2. Patric says

    What a ridiculous comment, Rick, but quite typical of self-loathing gay Republicans desperately trying to convince themselves that the members of their party don’t really loathe them. The reason that Minnesota is one of only a limited number of states without anti-gay discrimination written into its constitution is because DFLers (Democrats in Minnesota) have repeatedly blocked Republican efforts to adopt such an amendment for years now. The first time Republicans seized control of the legislature in decades, one of the first items on their agenda was to deliver for their base by passing this hate amendment. And the votes in the state legislature? DFLers voted against anti-gay discrimination 58 – 2 and Republicans voted for anti-gay discrimination 67 – 4. I can’t imagine what Republicans might try to do next which would motivate you to cheer their bi-partisanship.

  3. Derrick from Philly says

    Well, I guess there are a few decent Republicans left. A few north of the Mason-Dixon line. (none in Pennsylvania though).

  4. DanSwon says

    “because he has a daughter and a stepdaughter who are both lesbians” – why can’t he do it simply because it’s wrong?

  5. Caliban says

    Have you ever notice that about the ONLY time Republicans come out in favor of gay rights it’s because THEIR kid is gay? It’s like they don’t have the ability to empathize with others, understand an issue, unless it effects them directly.

  6. Rick says

    “Have you ever notice that about the ONLY time Republicans come out in favor of gay rights it’s because THEIR kid is gay?”

    No, not really. As far as I know, none of the 8 GOP Senators who voted for DADT repeal have gay children. Maybe they do, but I have never heard or read that they do.

  7. Eric Gonzalez says

    So sad that commentators of the likes of Patric, Danswon, Caliban and last but not least Jamal49 marginalize the great step that this CEO, not a politician mind you has spearheaded a move to help bring equality to the issue of marriage. All the majority of you can do is look at the negative, quite obviously the vast majority of it being located in your myopic outlook. With the likes of you in the US, it is no wonder that both political sides continue to move to polar opposites. I am certain that if you were to review your lives and find out how many people you’ve had wonderful, pleasant and even business encounters with, have been republican you’d probably s*** your pants. SAD.

  8. says

    @Rick, it was a Democratic majority that passed marriage equality in NY, as it has been with ALL pro-gay legislation. A handful of Republican votes does not pass legislation.

    The rare pro-gay Republican legislators should absolutely be lauded, but grossly exaggerating the pro-gay state of the 2012 Republican party is transparently stupid and fools no one. Corporate Repubicans are much more open on gay issues than elected ones because they’re answering to business rather than religious interests, and, in the business world, the closet is dying. We’ll see how many years it takes the slow-minded Republican base to understand that they are dinosaurs.

  9. Chicklets says

    One nice republican does NOT make me forgive the overall ignorance/hatred of the GOP. No thanks. The GOP of 2012 is just one book burning away from being the Taliban.

  10. Chris says

    I’m not real brite. I got confused with all of the anti’s…..two negatives make a… that means that he ‘likes us….he really really likes us’.

  11. Matt says

    For those of you who reject him JUST BECAUSE he’s a Republican, you need to check yourselves. By rejecting every non-Democrat supporter of marriage equality, you’re boxing yourselves into a corner by feeding the social conservative wing of the party, WHICH DESPERATELY NEEDS TO DIE, but responses like this keep it on every bit of life support possible. In the beginning, Democrats weren’t our friends at all, but little by little, they grew, so don’t brush him off just because he’s a Republican; otherwise, you’re allowing LGBT issues to live as wedge issues.

    To answer why Republicans only care when they have an LGBT family member, 1) don’t you usually call “homocons” closet queens just trying to please their conservative families, 2) most support of LGBT issues comes from having friends, especially family members, who are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender.