Mike Isaac

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DOMA’s Demise Celebrated by Apple, Other Top Tech Firms

In a pair of 5-4 decisions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of same-sex couples in two major cases, effectively allowing federal benefits for gay couples and clearing the way for same-sex marriages in the state of California.

One ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the bill passed in 1996 that ruled same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The other decision left intact a lower-court ruling that invalidated California’s Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

Among progressive Silicon Valley tech companies, the reaction was incredibly positive.

“Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today,” an Apple spokesman told AllThingsD in a statement.

Google, in typical Google fashion, has had fun with its statement of support for same-sex couples. Type the word “gay”, “lesbian”, “transgender” or “bisexual” into Google’s search bar, and the box quickly morphs into a pride-colored rainbow, a not-so-subtle showing of celebration. (As Staci Kramer points out, this isn’t a new thing for Google — the company has done the rainbow search bar thing for Pride week for years now.)

HP also hopped on board, pointing to its history of support for the gay community: “HP has more than 30 years of partnership with and participation in pride events, and works throughout the year to build and strengthen HP as an organization that values all employees, customers and communities,” said Michael Thacker, global communications chair, HP Pride Employee Resource Group. “Our sponsorship at San Francisco Pride this year is a great example of how HP is committed to diversity and to creating a flexible, inclusive environment for everyone inside and outside of the company.”

Facebook declined to comment, but earlier in the week, a Facebook spokesman pointed out that of the roughly 200 million U.S. Facebook users, 70 percent have a gay friend on the social network. That’s a noteworthy indication that in recent years, more Americans have increasingly accepted — or at least acknowledged — gay friends and family members.

It’s worth noting that CEO Mark Zuckerberg did post a pretty warm and fuzzy message to his Timeline (though not till later in the afternoon): “I’m proud that our country is moving in the right direction, and I’m happy for so many of my friends and their families. #PrideConnectsUs,” he wrote.

Instagram posted to its company blog a photo-documented celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling as shot by people around the world.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but big business made clever use of the microblogging service. Companies like Mastercard and ABC purchased promoted tweets around the #gaymarriage hashtag, which meant that every time a user looked up the hashtag, they would have one of those promoted tweet ads pop up. Smart, quick thinking.

Of course, the Valley has quite a history around being progressive in its view of same-sex rights, especially compared to the rest of corporate America. Facebook, Twitter, Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm, along with hundreds of other companies, filed an amicus brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year.

And Apple, in particular, has traditionally stood against inequality, having long offered health benefits to same-sex couples employed by Apple, and publicly donating to the “No on Prop 8” campaign in 2008.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle