Been quite a week for Lloyd Blankfein.
“When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs,” wrote Greg Smith in his very public resignation, “they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch.”
Factions on Wall Street and Main Street are split over whether Smith is correct.
But Blankfein and Goldman [GS 122.42 -0.64 (-0.52%) ] are creating another split—between groups supporting gay marriage.
Yes, you read that correctly. Lloyd Blankfein, husband and father of three, has ended up in a gay rights power struggle.
Last month, the Human Rights Campaign named Blankfein its first national corporate spokesman for same sex marriage and gave Goldman Sachs an award.
HRC says the CEO has long been a supporter of “marriage equality,” and it figured such an “unexpected” choice would help its cause.
Blankfein then made a public service announcement which says, “America’s corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and is the right thing to do.” He asked people to join “a majority of Americans who support marriage equality.”
Blankfein probably expected to get some heat. He did, but from an unexpected quarter—not high net worth clients who don’t support gay marriage, but non-clients who do.
A group called Occupy Los Angeles Queer Affinity Group (OLAQAG?) is furious that Blankfein’s name, face, and company are being attached to the cause of marriage equality. OLAQAG (Ok, that’s what I’m just going to call them) is planning a protest at HRC’s fundraiser this weekend in Los Angeles. Dan Fotou from GetEQUAL.org tells me the protest was planned weeks ago, but “the timing couldn’t be more relevant with the fallout at GS.”
So…what’s wrong with having a Wall Street CEO go public supporting gay marriage? In the eyes of the protestors, it’s a bit like O.J. Simpson supporting help for battered women. The Occupiers say the award to Blankfein “ignores his record and self-admitted crimes against humanity.” (Self-admitted crimes against humanity?). The Occupiers plan to don hazmat suits at the fundraiser “to reflect HRC’s hazardous practices and to demand that HRC dump Goldman Sachs and utilize its Washington influence to fight for full federal equality.”
Hazmat suits. Occupiers. Same sex marriage fight. La-la Land. Sherman McCoy, er, Lloyd Blankfein. The whole thing does sound like a scene from “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Two LGBT advocacy groups fight over one straight Master of the Universe? Really? “Even Tom Wolfe on acid couldn’t make this stuff up!” tweeted @BruceCuth.
However, a closer read suggests the protest may be less about Lloyd Blankfein and more about the HRC. OLAQAG accuses the larger group of not really accomplishing much and being more interested in raising money, with the choice of Blankfein and Goldman as award recipients alleged proof the HRC champions the one percent, “making it permissive to steal from the poor to prop up the rich while dismissing the demand for full federal equality and equal protections.”
I fully expect to see posters of Blankfein held up by protestors in hazmat suits this weekend. What’s next? Who else can he tick off? Can we somehow make Lloyd Blankfein the root cause of Carmelo Anthony’s problems? Peyton Manning leaving the Colts? The reason Ben picked Courtney on “The Bachelor”? High gas prices? Iran’s nuclear ambitions? Yes we can!
By the way, the PSA Blankfein made for the HRC promotes marriage as: Love, Family, Commitment, attributes Greg Smith might have used to describe the way things used to be between Goldman and its clients. He claims those days are over. Anyone donning a hazmat suit over that?