Businesses Back Lifting of Sex-Sex Marriage Bans; Urge High Court to Recognize Right

U.S. businesses have staked out their ground on same-sex marriage; they’re in favor of it.

The most recent evidence is a friend-of-the-court brief filed last month in the U.S. Supreme Court, ahead of the argument later this month on whether gay and lesbian couples can marry in all 50 states.

Nearly 400 of the country’s best-known companies–including Google,, General Electric and Walt Disney–urged the high court to strike down the remaining sex-sex marriage bans and provide every member of their workforce “equal dignity.”

Currently same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C.–which is also where 70 percent of Americans live and a lot of companies operate.

Corporate America has gotten behind the same-sex bandwagon for pragmatic reasons. Companies don’t want to be subject to different legal requirements in different states. It’s bad for employee recruitment and morale. Or as the companies’ brief puts it, the “fractured legal landscape breeds unnecessary confusion, tension and diminished employee morale.”

And this patchwork legal landscape also can be misery for HR and benefits departments. In states where same-sex marriage is banned, corporate officers must struggle to manage shifting rules on tax policies, employee benefits and other administrative complexities governing same-sex partners and their families.

But not just that. Not having same-sex marriage accepted in every state limits companies’ ability to redeploy workers, open new offices and pursue other strategies.

A conundrum formulated this way by Sears Roebuck:

“Say your star employee’s married to his partner in New York and you want to move him to Georgia, where not only is it legal to fire him if he’s gay and his marriage isn’t recognized by the state, but you’re potentially putting him in a hostile situation.”

And you’ve got to keep your customers happy too and not alienate them by taking a stance with which they disagree. Sixty percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to recent public opinion polls.

And there’s also this: 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies now offer protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Add it all up and it becomes clear why  so many well-known companies (and undoubtedly some not as well-known companies) want to see the legal battle over same-sex marriage.

Check back here later this month for a report on the argument in the same-sex marriage case.

The list of the 379 companies signing on to the brief is here.


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