Bloomberg reports that Apple will join other companies, including Facebook and Intel, in an effort to urge the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States. The group will reportedly make its case this week as the high court evaluates California's Proposition 8: a 2008 ballot proposition that became a constitutional amendment, declaring that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Bloomberg reports that the companies involved in the effort will argue that bans on same-sex marriage in 41 states are harmful to workplace morale and recruiting.
Apple in particular is no stranger to same-sex marriage support; as The Los Angeles Times reported in 2008, the company contributed $100,000 in opposition to Proposition 8, arguing that "a person's fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8." Other Silicon Valley titans including Sergey Brin and Larry Page also contributed a combined $140,000 to the "No on 8" campaign, with Google arguing that the constitutional amendment would have a "chilling and discriminatory effect" on its employees.
"A person's fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation."
News of Apple, Facebook, and other corporate backers follows a New York Times report today noting that dozens of Republicans, including "top advisers" to former President George W. Bush, four former governors, and two members of Congress, have signed a legal brief in support of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The group includes HP CEO Meg Whitman, Representatives Ilena Ros-Letinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY), Bush national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley, and others. The brief is said to argue that support of same-sex marriage is commensurate with conservative values of "limited government and maximizing individual freedom."
The Proposition 8 brief reportedly will include about 60 companies, including Apple, Ebay, Nike, Oracle, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Xerox, and Zynga. And as Bloomberg notes, it's not the only coalition of corporations working to change the law; more than 200 companies are said to advocate for same-sex marriage in a separate Supreme Court case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits legally married same-sex couples from filing taxes jointly, receiving Social Security survivor benefits, and other federal breaks enjoyed exclusively by heterosexual couples.
Corporate support for same-sex marriage may have moral underpinnings, but support has manifested in business-related rationales. The Human Rights Campaign has argued that DOMA is bad for business, creating administrative problems for companies that desire to treat their employees equally. "No matter how welcoming the corporate culture, it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws," the companies opposing Proposition 8 will reportedly argue to the court when it hears arguments on March 26th and 27th in the two cases.
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