On Thursday, an amicus brief was filed with the US Supreme Court on behalf of 379 American corporations, asking the court to end the confusion and make gay marriage legal throughout the country.
An amicus curiae, literally “friend of the court,” is a filing by someone who is not a party to a case, but who claims to have a substantial interest in it. In other words, it’s advice. And as advice, the court is under no obligation to take notice of it.
But we have a feeling the court will take heed in this instance.
If all you paid attention to were the latest news reports coming out of Alabama, where the state’s supreme court is defying a federal court order that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, then it might not be clear to you how in the rest of the country, gay marriage is no longer even controversial.
When Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both sign the same document urging the court to end the bigotry against gay Americans who simply demand the same right to marry that everyone else has, how much more mainstream can it get?
Sure, the hipster tech companies are all on board — Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, eBay, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter — but you knew they were all a bunch of queers already.
But even Republicans are going to have to pay attention to some of the old-school firms that put their names on this thing, including financial services companies: Accenture, Aetna, Bank of America, Barclays, Goldman Sachs — you know, the places that buy your CEO a round of golf and a weekend getaway from time to time. And how about these classics: Colgate-Palmolive, ConAgra, General Electric, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Levi Strauss & Co, and the Walt Disney Company.
Conservatives, take note. Some of the names on the list include companies that also support ALEC, the corporate-interest cabal that supplies Republican state legislators with model legislation: AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Comcast, DirecTV, Dow Chemical, Dupont, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Verizon, and Visa.
Signatories even include airlines — Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United — and three professional sports teams: The New England Patriots, San Francisco Giants, and Tampa Bay Rays.
But what’s really touching is to see the tiny companies that also signed on. You practically want to pick them up and give them a hug:
— Arbor Brewing Company “is a privately owned brewpub and microbrewery in Michigan that employs 100 people and distributes its beer in three states.”
— Billy’s Farm “is an organic Christmas tree farm located in Wilton, California.”
— Ralph’s Regal Weddings “performs wedding ceremonies for all couples in the Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho areas.”
It’s pretty incredible to see all of these very different companies come to total agreement on one issue. But there’s no ambiguity in their message.
“Inconsistent marriage laws force companies to divert significant time and money to the creation and maintenance of complex administrative systems needed to differentiate treatment of otherwise indistinguishable employees based on the different marriage laws of the places where they live. These differences can create rifts in the employer-employee relationship. Employers are better served by a uniform marriage rule that gives equal dignity to employee relationships. Allowing same-sex couples to marry improves employee morale and productivity, reduces uncertainty, and removes the wasteful administrative burdens imposed by the current disparity of state law treatment.”
Now that’s smart. These companies aren’t butting in to say that one form of marriage is more “traditional” than another, or that allowing gay marriage is a logical extension of the Fourth Amendment, or some other legal tactic that has been used in countless court fights now.
Instead, they are weighing in from their business perspective: All of this bigotry and nonsense is bad for American business. Let the gays marry, let everyone be happier in their home lives, and let’s all be productive and make a ton of money.
You’d think even Antonin Scalia could comprehend that one.
Read the entire brief, with all 379 businesses listed, at this pdf.