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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Big Tech Companies Stand Up for Gay Marriage

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 11:37 AM


The Snitch told you yesterday about the swath of Republicans changing their tune on same-sex marriage -- notably Hewlett-Packard CEO and former CA Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, Jon Huntsman, and senior officials from the Reagan and George W. Bush Administrations. But the GOP isn't the only group standing up for gay rights. Hundreds of Silicon Valley tech companies also filed with the Supreme Court in support of gay marriage, arguing that Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) force them to treat employees unequally.

Some of the notable tech companies involved include Adobe,, Apple, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Twitter, Viacom, Xerox, and Zynga. Why does Silicon Valley care so much about gay marriage?

Well, as Jolie O'Dell at VentureBeat notes, DOMA is basically an HR nightmare, and forces businesses to treat employees according to a caste system when it comes to issues like 401(k)s, taxes, health care benefits, retirement, spouse visas, and more.

From the brief:

"[T]he burden of DOMA's dual regime is keenly felt by organizations that conduct operations or do business in jurisdictions that authorize or recognize marriage between two people of the same sex. ... Far from creating uniformity, DOMA obliges employers to treat an employee married to someone of the same sex and an employee married to someone of a different sex unequally."

In addition to the confusion and complications that abound from such "separate but equal but not really" policies (Hm, where have we read about that before?), DOMA also requires employers to essentially discriminate against their gay employees, which often goes directly against the companies' ethics statements.

Again, from the brief:

"We must treat one employee less favorably, or at minimum differently, when each is as lawfully married as the other. We must do all of this in states, counties, and cities that prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and demand equal treatment of all married individuals. This conscription has harmful consequences."

Having such heavy hitters batting for same-sex rights is a definite boon for the movement, and goes to show that when it comes to big business, plenty of companies are taking a progressive stance.

If you'd like to venture down the rabbit hole, you can read the entire 95-page brief at VentureBeat.

Anna Pulley is the Arts and Culture Editor at SF Weekly. Follow her on Twitter @annapulley. She'll tweet you right.

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