Thursday, 10 November 2011

Major Corporations Lend Influence to Lawsuit Against DOMA

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company logosA lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts seeking to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman, has received the support of a legal brief filed by scores of major corporations. According to LifeSite News, nearly 70 companies signed on to the friend-of-the-court brief filed in Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The companies include Microsoft, Starbucks, Google, NIKE, Levi Strauss and Co., CBS, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass., Time Warner Cable, and Xerox. Also adding their influence to the brief, reported Keen News Service, a website focusing on homosexual issues, were nearly a dozen national law firms, seven trade and professional organizations, and the cities of New York and Boston.

LifeSite News reported that the brief “charges that DOMA causes ‘unnecessary cost and administrative complexity’ for employers located in states where same-sex ‘marriage’ is recognized by law. Since same-sex ‘marriage’ is recognized as legal in some states but not recognized by the federal government, employers must contend with a complex tax situation for ‘married’ homosexual couples, the brief says.”

The brief also argues that DOMA makes companies the unintended “face” of discrimination, damaging workplace morale and hampering their ability to recruit qualified homosexual professionals. “Employers are obliged to treat one employee spouse differently from another, when each is married, and each marriage is equally lawful,” the brief reads. “The burden of DOMA’s dual regime is keenly felt by enterprises that conduct operations or do business in jurisdictions that authorize or recognize same-sex marriage.”

While the Massachusetts lawsuit is just one of many legal efforts to overturn DOMA, it has received a national spotlight “since it is the first to reach the federal appellate level, and would be appealed next to the Supreme Court,” reported LifeSite.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize homosexual partnerships as marriage. “Our families, our communities, and even our economy have seen the many important benefits that have come from recognizing equal marriage rights and, frankly, no downside,” declared the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, as she announced the lawsuit. “However, we have also seen how many of our married residents and their families are being hurt by a discriminatory, unprecedented, and, we believe, unconstitutional law.”

The suit charges that in passing the 1996 DOMA statute, which was signed into law by President Clinton, Congress “overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people.”