By Barbara Frankel
The 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:
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese comments on the ruling and its impact.
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.
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.
Contains links for detailed historical info on Proposition 8 and some projections, plus the full ruling.
U.S. News & World Report assesses the ruling's impact on the Republican presidential race.
The legal director and the senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights analyze legal implications.
GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson applauds the ruling and references research showing that the majority of Americans now support gay marriage.
A news site speculates the next steps in Proposition 8 appeals and if the case will make it to the Supreme Court.
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.
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.
A collection of comments from Hollywood stars—such as Modern Family cast members, Olivia Wilde, and more—showing support for the ruling.
The NOH8 Campaign shares its excitement and discusses the other legal issues that surround Proposition 8 and the possibility of future appeals.
"Like" this Facebook page to stay up to date on the continuing news surrounding the movement against Proposition 8.