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Hundreds of U.S. companies, cities ask Supreme Court to strike down DOMA

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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Updated: Feb. 28, 2013

BOSTON — Nearly 300 corporations, cities, and other organizations filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, encouraging it to overturn a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.

The brief drew 278 signers, including more than 200 companies, many of whom also signed on to a brief announced yesterday asking the court to strike down California’s Proposition 8 and similar state bans on same-sex marriage.

The companies said that DOMA “forces us to treat one class of our lawfully married employees differently than another, when our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees.”

Our principles are not platitudes. Our mission statements are not simply plaques in the lobby. Statements of principle are our agenda for success: born of experience, tested in laboratory, factory, and office, attuned to competition. Our principles reflect, in the truest sense, our business judgment.

By force of law, DOMA rescinds that judgment and directs that we renounce these principles or, worse yet, betray them.

Among the signatories were many of the nation’s largest corporations, including Amazon.com, Apple, Bank of New York, CBS, Cisco Systems, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Facebook, Google, JetBlue, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co, Liberty Mutual, Marriott International, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, NIKE, Pfizer, Starbucks, Twitter, Viacom, Walt Disney Company and Xerox.

Also included were numerous financial institutions, medical centers, health care providers and of health-care coverage, airlines, builders, energy and high technology businesses, manufacturers, media companies, insurers, along with pharmaceutical companies, law and professional groups.

Joining the filing as well, according to lead counsel, Boston litigator Sabin Willett, were the cities of Baltimore, Bangor, Boston, Cambridge, Hartford, Healdsburg, Los Angeles, New York, Northampton, Portsmouth, Providence, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Seattle, and West Hollywood.

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A copy of the brief is here; a complete list of organizations and cities who have signed the brief begins at page 53.

The brief is one of hundreds received by the court as it considers landmark cases on DOMA and Prop 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

“These companies have embraced the simple fact that standing up for equality isn’t just good for business, it’s the right thing to do,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement Thursday.

“For years, many on this list have been trailblazing leaders for equality. Today hundreds of most prominent and respected American companies have taken historic stand for ending marriage discrimination before the highest court in the land.”

The effort is being coordinated by gay rights groups and is designed to show the justices the rapid and widespread evolution of views about same-sex marriage, now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. Religious leaders, labor groups and gay people who live in states that prohibit them from marrying are also weighing in.

But the wide swath of leading U.S. companies is the latest sign of the rapid shift toward acceptance of same-sex marriage in corporate America.

The brief comes on the heels of Wednesday’s announcement that more than 100 prominent Republicans will file a brief in Perry in strong support of marriage equality.

The ACLU reported that additional supporters, including religious leaders, retired military personnel, children’s rights groups and former cabinet secretaries are expected to file their briefs later this week.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the two cases on March 26 and March 27.

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