Tuesday and Wednesday (26-27/03/2013) the Supreme Court of USA will hear two cases related to same-sex marriage. One for the Prop 8 initiative in California, and the other one related to DOMA.
In this post I am not going to talk about how unfair it is for people who love one another to be denied basic human rights on the basis of them being gay. What I want to write about is the support from many tech companies for the just cause of Marriage Equality. The tides are turning (regardless how slowly) and many companies embrace equality like never before.
Take for example the legal brief filed to SCOTUS, arguing that same-sex marriage ban is hurting their business. And the companies are Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, EMC, eBay, Electronic Arts, Oracle, Twitter, Qualcomm, and Xerox among 298 others.
In the brief is stated that “The capital of modern enterprises is in many ways a human capital. Success depends on the talent, morale and motivation of the workforce for private and public employers alike. To attract the best employees and colleagues, amici must offer robust workplace benefits and a workplace ethos of transparent fairness…Workplace benefits enhance the employer/employee relationship, which in turn is a key to institutional success. To compete effectively in the modern employment market, amici strive to offer workplace benefits to their employees on an equitable basis.”
It goes on to argue that DOMA burdens companies with additional costs and bureaucratic nightmares even when the State recognizes same-sex marriages. Furthermore, they state this costs time and human capital to businesses who need to track laws regarding same-sex couples and incorporate this into their software because of different taxation rules.
The brief touches on immigration status as well, saying that getting the best scientists, entrepreneurs and scholar is of utmost importance for business but because of DOMA organizations are unable to give foreign nationals the same shared visa status that is available for straight couples, thus the same-sex partner must leave the spouse behind or find another way for them to be together in the country.
But companies look not only from financial, legal and taxation point. They also include morale: “In the modern workplace, the employer becomes the face of DOMA’s discriminatory treatment, and is placed in the role of intrusive inquisitor, imputer of taxable income, and withholder of benefits. The employer is thus forced by DOMA to participate in the injury of its own workforce morale”.
It is especially good to see companies stand on the right side of such a divisive issue. After all, the important thing for those companies is innovation, new technologies that lead to changing the world and more profits, and not who you sleep with and eventually marry. I know this was probably unthinkable to happen merely 15 years ago, but now companies consider not only profits, but their social standing as well. And over 60% of americans now support same-sex marriage.
This is not to say that companies are just starting to support LGBT rights. On the contrary. Google has launched many initiatives to support LGBT rights, having a special web site dedicated to the cause: Legalise Love. Facebook has created a page dedicated to LGBTQ rights.
And others are starting to show their support for marriage equality in various ways – as in advertisements for example. Amazon Kindle ad featured a gay couple on a vacation, while recent Microsoft ad for Outlook showed a lesbian couple getting marriage.
Hopefully, all the support will assist SCOTUS in taking the right decision. At least companies are taking a stand, defending a position that is just. More than that, I hope there are many startups in US, as wells as in EU, who will stand behind equality and stop that nonsense of “equal but separate”.
Check your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/Google+ feeds to see how many people are standing today for equality. If you can’t join them in real world, than post, follow the #UnitedforMarriage hashtag. It will be exciting. Check out also how many politicians embraced social media to express their support for marriage equality.