In case the majority of Americans who say they support marriage equality wasn't convincing enough for lawmakers to drop their defense of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 70 of the nation's leading businesses and organizations are adding their voice to the growing chorus. The amicus curiae brief, filed last week, supports the Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management case challenging the denial of federal rights and benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
The list of organizations signing the amicus brief is impressive, and includes Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CBS, Google, Kimpton Hotels, Microsoft, Nationwide Insurance, Nike, Ogilvy Group, Starbucks, Time Warner, Xerox, and Zipcar. The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) led a tremendous effort to recruit these businesses -- an effort the Human Rights Campaign was proud to support. (Read the full amicus brief here.)
This is an unprecedented union of corporations and organizations and sends a message that should resonate with lawmakers -- particularly House Republicans bent on spending taxpayer dollars to defend DOMA -- that the discriminatory law is bad for business and bad for the economy. DOMA's continued existence is placing a heavy burden on fair-minded companies that are doing the right thing and supporting their employees in same-sex marriages: it is forcing them to take on additional costs and administrative burdens in order to provide those employees with the same rights and benefits that their peers in opposite-sex marriages receive.
So far, not everyone in Washington seems to be getting that message.
Just a few weeks ago, House Speaker John Boehner declared -- before an audience roaring with applause at a Family Research Council event -- that House Republicans would continue to pour taxpayer dollars into defending DOMA. At a time when American voters are clamoring for jobs and the government often is gridlocked, John Boehner considers it an urgent, top priority to defend a policy that the majority of Americans and the nation's leading businesses say is a burden and discriminatory.
There is a path forward. The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) -- which has bipartisan support -- will continue to receive consideration before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. RMA would repeal DOMA. It would ensure that loving, committed same-sex couples could receive the exact same rights, recognition and benefits that those in opposite-sex relationships already receive. And it's a bill Americans support. Gallup found earlier this year that 53 percent of Americans support marriage equality. A December 2008 Newsweek/Princeton Research survey found that more than 7 in 10 Americans believe same-sex couples should have inheritance rights, Social Security benefits, insurance benefits, and hospital visitation rights. Passing the Respect for Marriage Act would give same-sex couples all those rights.
Too often, the challenging political realities are cited as a reason that DOMA repeal is unachievable in the near future. This is unacceptable -- and the public outcry of these 70 businesses and organizations should serve as a clear reminder that the will to end this discriminatory policy exists. DOMA is bad for American families, it's bad for the economy and it's an outdated law that no longer enjoys widespread support from any sector of American society -- from Main Street to Wall Street. HRC will continue fighting for DOMA's repeal -- whether it's through directly petitioning members of Congress, working with businesses to communicate why this law is bad for our national economy, or elevating the voices of well-known figures and everyday Americans who support marriage equality. Learn more about how you can join us in this fight by checking out our Americans for Marriage Equality campaign.