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Facebook, Apple among 379 to file gay marriage court brief
Laura Mandaro, USA TODAY Network
Published 2:30 a.m. ET March 6, 2015 | Updated 1:49 p.m. ET March 6, 2015
(Photo: Hal Yeager, AP)
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It's not the Fortune 500, but it came close.
Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson were among 379 companies to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, pressing the high court to overturn a lower court's ruling that upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The brief in the Obergefell v. Hodges case argues that without a uniform principle, employers and their employees suffer from significant burdens. It cites evidence showing the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Prohibiting same-sex marriage, the companies argue, makes it tougher to recruit and train employees.
"State laws that prohibit or decline to recognize marriages between same-sex couples hamper employer efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible in those states. Our successes depend upon the welfare and morale of all employees, without distinction," read the brief, which was filed by the law firm Morgan Lewis on Thursday.
Also Thursday, the Supreme Court said it will hear oral arguments April 28 on whether states can ban same-sex marriage. In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th circuit, which includes those four states, upheld those bans, becoming the only federal court to do so. Previously, the Supreme Court had given the green light to gay marriage by letting stand other rulings that struck down gay marriage bans.
As a result of this patchwork of rulings, same-sex couples in 37 states can be legally married.
These "inconsistent and discriminatory state laws" leads to unnecessary confusion, tension, and diminished employee morale, read the brief.
Supreme Court agrees to rule on gay marriage
High-tech companies that compete fiercely for workers with specialized skills, who are often younger, have for years supported gay domestic partnerships. They've become more publicly vocal in the past year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is gay, last year called on his home state of Alabama to promote gay rights, and at a conference in California earlier this year, made an impassioned statement about the freedom for people to "love who they choose."
The list of those on the friends-of-the-court brief isn't just big tech, however. It includes mature consumer products companies like General Mills and Kimberley-Clark; banks including J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo & Co.; and small family-owned businesses, like a roofing company and a cupcake bakery.
People give the ring finger after Ala. halts gay-marriage licenses
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