By Greg Roumeliotis
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, one of Wall Street's most powerful figures, has become the first major business leader to join a national media campaign in support of same-sex marriage.
Gay rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign published a video on Sunday in which 57-year-old Blankfein, who has headed investment bank Goldman Sachs since 2006, asks viewers to join a "majority of Americans who support marriage equality."
"America's corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and it's the right thing to do," Blankfein said in the video, which was posted on popular video website YouTube.
Blankfein had already made his views on the issue known. Last year he was one of the financial industry executives to sign an open letter calling on New York state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage.
Yet Sunday's video is a rare public display of support on a highly controversial issue from one of the financial world's titans whose firm has not always endeared itself among supporters of liberal causes, depicted by some lawmakers and activists as the epitome of Wall Street greed.
"Our campaign is all about recruiting unexpected spokespeople so Americans can connect the dots and realize that on an issue like this there can be agreement," Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz said.
Besides Blankfein, the Americans for Marriage Equality campaign has attracted a dozen personalities on similar videos, including Senator Al Franken, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique.
"The fact that we have Mo'Nique and Lloyd Blankfein campaigning on this should show that we can have commonality on the issue. We approached Lloyd Blankfein and literally within hours he had said yes, he would do it," Sainz said.
Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael Duvally did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gay marriage remains outlawed in more than 40 of the 50 U.S. states and the issue promises to surface in the 2012 presidential election even as economic woes seem to take priority in the minds of voters.
President Barack Obama has supported rights for same sex couples but has stopped short of endorsing marriage, while most of the Republicans seeking to challenge him in November have come out against it.
(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York)