The U.S. federal government still defines the act of marriage as one taking place between a man and a woman even though a number of states have made gay marriage legal and President Obama made it clear in his Inauguration speech (and other speeches since) that gay marriage is something he firmly believes in. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said after being sworn in on Jan. 21 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Roberts will have a lot to do with possibly making a change to the way the federal government defines marriage when his Court hears two gay-marriage-related cases on March 26 and 27. Nearly 300 companies came out Wednesday to “urge the U.S. Supreme Court … to strike down a federal law that restricts the definition of marriage to heterosexual unions,” Reuters reports.
Companies supporting the move to strike the law include tech titans such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Amazon.com, Facebook, Salesforce.com, Qualcomm, Zynga and eBay in addition to Pfizer, Aetna, Alcoa, Nike, Starbucks, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Reuters owner Thomson Reuters. Many of these companies have released “It Gets Better” videos highlighting its LGBT employees and have been praised by the Human Rights Campaign for inclusive policies.
A slew of former Republican bigwigs, such as Jon Huntsman Jr., the former presidential candidate and ex-governor of Utah; Christine Todd Whitman, a one-time New Jersey governor; and three ex-governors of Massachusetts (William Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift), among others, have thrown their names behind the effort as well.
Part of the issue, attorney Sam Willett writes in a brief filed Wednesday, is that the existing Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “requires that employers treat one employee differently from another, when each is married, and each marriage is equally lawful.” This can make things difficult for corporate brands that spread nationwide.
Reuters notes that “no business interests have been represented” on the side of marriage being restricted to those between heterosexuals in the briefs already filed in the case.
While President Obama is the first President to actually openly talk about gay issues, there are some who think he has not done enough. The President “has not yet said there is a constitutional right to marry, but he has been very careful not to say there isn’t,” said Evan Wolfson, president of gay rights group Freedom to Marry, according to Bloomberg. “The time for him to say it is now.”
If he wants, he can say it with nearly every big American brand standing behind him.