Mike Isaac

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Tech’s Heavy Hitters Come Out in Support of Gay Marriage


Just because it’s big business doesn’t mean it’s not progressive. (At least, not this time.)

Nearly 300 businesses — including Silicon Valley mainstays like Facebook, Oracle, Qualcomm, Apple and dozens of others — filed a brief with the Supreme Court expressing support for same-sex marriage.

The brief, first reported by Fortune, opposes arguments made in bills such as Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, the two initiatives that most stridently argue against same-sex marriage in California.

Much of the amicus brief’s argument echoes that put forth by Proposition 8’s main bill of opposition (filed last week), which maintains that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. President Obama has publicly echoed these sentiments in stump speeches, though he has yet to formally file an amicus brief in opposition, as many gay rights activists have urged him to do.

But the companies’ collective amicus brief takes a different tack, arguing for the business reasons that bills like DOMA and Prop 8 aren’t desirable.

“The capital of modern enterprises is in many ways a human capital. Success depends on the talent, morale and motivation of the workforce for private and public employers alike,” the document states. “To attract the best employees and colleagues, amici must offer robust workplace benefits and a workplace ethos of transparent fairness.”

It is a decidedly different approach to an argument often championed as a civil rights issue, making an economic case for what ultimately amounts to a morass of HR problems for prospective LGBT employees and the enterprises who hire them.

Another bill, in opposition to Proposition 8, will be filed on Thursday, arguing much the same thing as Wednesday’s amicus brief.

For some major tech companies, the pro-LGBT stand is not entirely foreign. Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple have openly come out in support of equal rights for LGBT employees, and many of these corporations are home to programs that support gay employees, sometimes hosting pro-LGBT events that span company (and competitor) lines. (Facebook, for instance, held the Out for Undergraduates in Technology Conference last month.)

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who was a vocal supporter of the Prop 8 ballot initiative when she ran unsuccessfully for governor in California, recently switched her stance on the issue, joining dozens of prominent Republicans in signing a legal document saying that gay people have a constitutional right to be married.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald