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Google, Facebook and other businesses argue against Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban

by Chris Casteel Published: March 5, 2014

Some of the biggest corporations in the United States, including Google, Facebook and Starbucks, say Oklahoma’s law against same-sex marriage forces them to violate their values and differentiate among their workers.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the federal appeals court that is hearing same-sex marriage cases from Oklahoma and Utah, 46 companies and business groups said they are ultimately hurt by laws they consider discriminatory.

“The mandate in Utah, Oklahoma and other states requires that we single out colleagues with same-sex partners and treat them as a separate and unequal class as compared to employees with heterosexual partners when dealing with state marital benefits,” the brief says.

“This mandate upsets our business philosophy and prevents our companies from reaching our full economic potential because it dissuades those employees from living and working in the jurisdictions where we do, or want to do, business.”

Among those signing the brief were Google, Oracle, eBay, Starbucks, Intel, Pfizer, Cisco and Levi Strauss.

U.S. district judges in Oklahoma and Utah have recently struck down constitutional provisions passed in 2004 banning same-sex marriage. Those decisions are on appeal at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which is considering them on a fast track. Oral arguments are scheduled next month.

A broad array of groups on both sides have given their input through friend-of-the-court briefs.

In their brief, the companies said the mandates against same-sex marriage pose administrative burdens and hurt morale.

Reversing the district judges’ rulings, they said, “would serve only to prolong an unproductive, inequitable and unjust status quo.”

All of the businesses signing the brief said they have operations in the 10th Circuit, which includes Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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