Major American corporations and dozens of prominent Republicans have filed their official support for gay marriage rights with the US Supreme Court as it prepares to consider the issue.
The court will next month hear challenges against the ban on same-sex marriage in the state of California, known as Proposition 8, and to the constitutionality of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars the US federal government from recognising same-sex marriages.
Around 60 companies, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Apple, Facebook, Intel, Morgan Stanley and Nike, have now filed legal briefs with the court arguing that barring same-sex marriage is bad for workplace morale and undermines their efforts in recruiting gay staff.
In a posting on its LGBTQ@Facebook page, Facebook confirmed that it “is proudly joining many other businesses in submitting briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage,” arguing that DOMA and Proposition 8 “discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages and create undue burdens on companies and employees”.
Flying in the face of Republican speaker of the House of Representatives John A. Boehner, around 75 current and former Republican leaders and figures also lodged their support for marriage equality with the court.
The New York Times said that this “reflects the civil war in the party since the November election”.
Signatories to the brief include a number of top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors, and two members of Congress.
The CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she unsuccessfully ran for governor of California, has signed on to the brief, saying that she has come “to embrace same-sex marriage after a period of careful review and reflection”.
Deborah Pryce, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, said on Monday that “Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too”.
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the Republican backing, saying that this affirms “that support for the freedom to marry is a mainstream position that reflects American values of freedom, family, and fairness, as well as conservative values of limited government and personal responsibility.
“As opposition to the freedom to marry becomes increasingly isolated and the exclusion from marriage increasingly indefensible, Americans all across the political spectrum are saying it’s time to end marriage discrimination, do right by families, and get our country on the right side of history,” said Wolfson.
The Obama administration has also filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA.
It argues that the law’s discrimination against same-sex couples “does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest” and “cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection”.
The administration has not yet filed a brief in the case dealing with Proposition 8.