Google, Facebook, Starbucks are among companies arguing against Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban

Large companies join with smaller ones in legal brief contending that same-sex marriage bans are bad for workers and companies
by Chris Casteel Modified: March 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014

Some of the nation’s biggest corporations — including Google, Facebook, Starbucks and Pfizer — say laws in Oklahoma and other states banning same-sex marriage pose administrative burdens and force them to violate their principles.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the federal appeals court that is hearing a same-sex marriage case from Oklahoma and a similar one from 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.”

U.S. district judges in Oklahoma and Utah 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.

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

Among those signing the corporations’ brief were Google, Oracle, eBay, Starbucks, Intel, Pfizer, Cisco, Overstock.com and Levi Strauss. Smaller companies, including a Colorado brewery, also signed.

Google has invested more than $700 million in a data center near Pryor, Oklahoma; less than two years ago, the operations manager at the data center expressed appreciation for the reception the company had received in the state and said, “We are glad to be in Oklahoma.”

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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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