Gay-Marriage Ban Struck Down: Why Your Company Should Care

The California court decision striking down the ban on same-sex marriage benefits corporations actively standing up for equal rights for all employees.

By Barbara Frankel

Prop 8The California Appeals Court decision striking down Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage, is an important legal and moral victory for marriage-equality supporters, including several corporations.

The intersection of corporate values and business decisions has increased substantially in recent years at progressive companies. In California, companies that have fought against Proposition 8 in support of their LGBT employees and customers include Cisco.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision declaring Proposition 8 illegal is narrow in scope, only affecting California, and is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court. That gives the high court a chance to finally resolve this issue and remedy a serious inequity in the current societal structure. Proposition 8 was a ballot measure approved by California voters in 2008 after courts allowed same-sex marriage in that state.

Six states and the District of Columbia now have legalized same-sex marriage, most recently New York last summer. The other states are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. As of February 8, legalization of same-sex marriage also is pending in Washington.

The Importance of Corporate Support

A number of corporations have actively joined the battle for LGBT equality, recognizing that to have inclusive workplaces, no group can be excluded.

Corporate support of LGBT rights has included the battle against the Defense of Marriage Act in Indiana, led by companies such as Eli Lilly, WellPoint and Cummins, Nos. 39, 36 and 18, respectively, in The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. It has included advocacy for ENDA, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, supported by corporations including DiversityInc Top 50 companies Kaiser Permanente (No. 1), Ernst & Young (No. 5), IBM (No. 7), Bank of America (No. 11), The Coca-Cola Company (No. 12),  Merck & Co. (No. 15),  Accenture (No. 23), KPMG (No. 29), Dell (No. 30), Time Warner (No. 28), Eli Lilly, WellPoint and Whirlpool (No. 49), as well as DiversityInc 25 Noteworthy Companies BASF, Boehringer Ingelheim, Capital One, Chubb, KeyCorp and Pfizer, and also companies such as Eastman Kodak Company, Ameriprise Financial and General Motors.

DiversityInc is also a strong supporter of LGBT rights. No company can earn a spot on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list if it does not offer same-sex domestic-partner benefits. This year, in light of the Human Rights Campaign’s revised Corporate Equality Index benefits, any company receiving less than an 80 percent rating on the index will be penalized in its DiversityInc Top 50 scoring. Companies that do not receive a 100 percent rating will be ineligible for The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees list.

For a discussion of the critical importance of values in corporate decision making, please read DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy: Decision Making, Clarity of Values & What to Do When It Goes Horribly Wrong.

What Everyone Said

Here are links to commentaries on the court ruling and its ramifications:

Federal Appeals Court Agrees: California’s Proposition 8 Is Unconstitutional
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese comments on the ruling and its impact.

Prop. 8: Ruling to have limited effect outside California
L.A. Times’ blog discusses how the ruling will have limited effect outside California because it is based on voter repeal of a right a minority already enjoyed.

Prop. 8: California’s same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional
University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Tobias Barrington Wolff says the unique circumstances giving rise to the ban’s passage could prompt the 9th Circuit panel to strike down Proposition 8 without addressing if banning gay marriage would be constitutional in the eight other states in its territory.

BREAKING: Proposition 8 ruled unconstitutional by 9th Circuit panel
Contains links for detailed historical info on Proposition 8 and some projections, plus the full ruling.

Prop 8 Ruling Will Be a Political Disaster for Romney and the GOP
U.S. News & World Report assesses the ruling’s impact on the Republican presidential race.

Ninth Circuit Decision Keeps the Focus on California
The legal director and the senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights analyze legal implications.

Anti-Gay Proposition 8 Once Again Ruled Unconstitutional
GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson applauds the ruling and references research showing that the majority of Americans now support gay marriage.

Proposition 8: What Happens Next?
A news site speculates the next steps in Proposition 8 appeals and if the case will make it to the Supreme Court.

Pledge Support for Marriage Equality
View the case timeline and sign a petition, which is viewable as a pop-up window, to protect the decision against Prop. 8 at the American Foundation for Equal Rights website.

Prop 8 Maps
Who supported Prop 8 in the first place? Here is a mash-up in Google maps that gives a geographic visual of the original advocates.

Celebrities React to Prop 8’s Unconstitutional Ruling
A collection of comments from Hollywood stars—such as Modern Family cast members, Olivia Wilde, and more—showing support for the ruling.

BREAKING: 9th Circuit Court Rules Prop 8 UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The NOH8 Campaign shares its excitement and discusses the other legal issues that surround Proposition 8 and the possibility of future appeals.

No on Proposition 8
“Like” this Facebook page to stay up to date on the continuing news surrounding the movement against Proposition 8.

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  • No matter what side of the battle you’re on, it’s a loss for everyone because all that this ruling proves is that…well, William Duncan says it best, so I’ll let his words do the talking:

    ‎”The basic point to make about this decision is that it very effectively accomplishes one thing: It elevates the idea of judicial supremacy as the primary constitutional value. It is more important, the court is saying, to preserve the conceit that the courts can read into state and national constitutions rights that no one knew or would have believed were there than to allow voters to come to a different conclusion about the basic laws by which they will be governed.”

    • Luke Visconti

      William C. Duncan is the director of the “Marriage Law Foundation” and a man consumed over the definition of other people’s sexuality and their access to the legal construct of marriage, which as implemented by the state, has no religious standing whatsoever. I don’t agree with his assessment of this ruling being “judicial supremacy”. The judicial branch of our government is equally powerful with the legislative and executive branches. “Judicial supremacy” or its cousin phrase “activist judges” are commonly used by people who are frustrated in their inability to impose their worldview on everyone else, but those phrases are only relevant with people who share that worldview. In this government, the people cannot violate the Constitution via referendum. The voters may not trump civil rights. It is the judiciary’s responsibility to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. Your religion is protected in its view of marriage being the providence of men and women – but you may not impose your religious views on the state – if granting same-sex couples the same civil rights as hetero couples does not damage the hetero couples’ rights (as was proven in the lawsuit that led to this decision), then you can call it “judicial supremacy” if you wish, but I call it America. If you want a theocracy, go live in one.

      Regarding the second part of Mr. Duncan’s quote, I’ll remind you that there were religious leaders in the early 1800s who wrote books on the Biblical justification for slavery – later in that century, other religious leaders wrote books on why women shouldn’t have the vote. It goes on and on to show why the First Amendment – which forbids the establishment of a state-run religion AND protects religion from the state – separates the United States from governments that leverage religion to suit the implementation of their angry oppressions on people who do not share their views. Our country was not perfect when founded – when enslaved Black people counted for 3/5ths of a human being – and only then to send more representatives to congress for the enslavers – and when women were not given any rights whatsoever. These are things that have changed over time – and Mr. Duncan is disingenuous when he selectively forgets our nation’s progress and asserts that rights for LGBT people are somehow ones that “no one knew or would have believed were there.”

      In short, you’re better off speaking for yourself when posting here, because I think that allowing others to do your talking is an indication that others doing your thinking as well. Other publications may let that go by passively, but it’s not going to happen here.

  • Bonnie Olson

    WOW, some these folks really do not like ss marriage.
    It would be fun to compile a list of donars and speak to them thru the voice of email and to notify all the GLBT folks in those areas of CA and Utah.

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