Growing List of Fortune 500 Companies 'Coming Out' in Support of Marriage Equality

There have been a lot of recent developments regarding same-sex marriage. The Justice Department has petitioned the Supreme Court on multiple occasions for a final ruling on constitutionality of the Defense Of Marriage Act, and there's a growing list of corporations who have expressed their opposition to DOMA and other attempts to deny benefits to same-sex couples. Judging by their briefs, the Obama Administration appears confident the court could strike down the law, either completely or partially (they are challenging Sect. 3 that defines marriage as one man and one woman). One of those cases is Golinkski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. An amicus brief was filed by 70 businesses, trade groups, and cities in support of the plaintiff, Golinski, and marriage equality. Some of the high profile companies and municipal employers include: Microsoft, CBS, Levi Strauss, Starbucks, Viacom, Electronic Arts, eBay, Xerox, Google and the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston and Seattle. This is important because while the Administration is making a case for "equal protection under the law" these employers are making one based on economics. From their brief:

In short, amici are employers or associations of employers, and we share a desire to attract, retain and secure a talented workforce. Our enterprises are located in or operate in states that recognize certain marriages of our employees and colleagues to same-sex spouses. At the same time, we are subject to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) which precludes federal recognition of these marriages. This dual regime uniquely burdens amici. It puts us, as employers and enterprises, to unnecessary cost and administrative complexity, and regardless of our business or professional judgment forces us to discriminate against a class of our lawfully-married employees, upon whose welfare and morale our own success in part depends. Amici write to advise the Court concerning the impact on the employer of these conflicting legal regimes.

While these challenges are faced in the courts, Minnesota's proposed constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage has gained corporate attention well. Minnesota-based General Mills is facing a boycott after company officials publicly opposed the ban saying, "We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy," and, "We value diversity…We value inclusion." Thomson Reuters, the company that operates Reuters news service and employs 8,000 Minnesotans, also came out against the ban stating, "We believe the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, if passed, would limit our ability to recruit and retain top talent. For this reason, we do not believe that the Amendment would be good for Thomson Reuters or the business community in the state.” Minnesota currently has laws banning same sex couples from getting married, but proponents of the ban want to ensure that "activists judges" don't overturn such laws as they have unanimously in Iowa and other states. The group Minnesota for Marriage (predominantly made up of various Christian denominations) is behind the measure and claims, "Right now, attempts are being made in Minnesota’s courts and in the Legislature to redefine marriage or eliminate it altogether." They suggest "perhaps most importantly" that:

Such a paradigm shift says to children that mothers and fathers don’t matter (especially fathers) – any two “parents” will do. It proclaims the false notion that a man can be a mother and a woman can be a father – that men and women are exactly the same in rearing children. And it undermines the marriage culture by making marriage a meaningless political gesture, rather than a child-affirming social construct.

Only 3 states, Utah, Arkansas and Mississippi outright ban gay adoptions and The American Academy of Pediatrics' policy statement on children of lesbian parents says, ”in young children, adjustment is largely determined by family functioning: regardless of their parents’ gender or sexual orientation, children fare better when their parents are compatible, share responsibilities, provide financial stability and have healthy interpersonal connections.” Under the title "Threat to Marriage" they refer to, " . . . a strong majority of Minnesotans – who believe marriage is between one man and one woman", but the latest poll shows diminishing support for the amendment. Support is now at 43% with opposition at 48%. While there has been a near sea-change on this issue, there will probably be little embracing it at the polls by politicians, especially those in Southern states. While the President's words and actions have a substantial impact, the fact is that over half of all states still have some same-sex marriage ban on the books by statute or constitution.

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