Big companies take up gay rights cause

Corporate backers make a business decision to take on the Defense of Marriage Act and the Boy Scouts' ban.

By Jason Notte Jan 30, 2013 4:03PM

Credit: Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images
Caption: Two groom figurines on top of wedding cakeWhen marches, petitions and ballot initiatives don't make those in power listen, money usually does the trick.


Supporters of gay marriage reached this conclusion recently and have lined up some deep-pocketed corporate friends to help them repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that states marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. The Human Rights Campaign launched its Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal earlier this week and has been able to recruit 13 businesses to join its cause.


The coalition's bigger backers include Aetna (AET), Biogen Idec (BIIB), Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY), Diageo (DEO), EBay (EBAY), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Sun Life Financial (SLF) and Marriott (MAR). That last company is perhaps the biggest coup, as the Los Angeles Times points out that it was founded by Mormons. The Mormon church is officially against gay marriage and went to great lengths to support California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage back in 2008.


Though CEO Bill Marriott, son of founder John William Marriott, told Bloomberg Businessweek last year that he's personally against gay marriage, but is reluctant to impose those views on his business. As a result, Marriott stayed out of the Proposition 8 debate and continued to invite gay couples to use its hotels for weddings and commitment ceremonies. Marriott reconciled his personal and business views on gay marriage as follows:


"Our church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States. I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor. You’re in business. You’ve got to make money. We have to appeal to the masses out there, no matter what their beliefs are."


Loosely translated, money from gay customers and straight customers is equal in value. While fast-food chain Chick-fil-A vocally disagreed with this stance last year, other companies are quickly taking the Marriott approach to the gay rights movement. Back in September, Intel (INTC) told ThinkProgress that it would no longer donate to Boy Scouts of America troops that discriminated against gay scouts. That's no small deal, considering the $700,000 it gave scout troops in 2010 made the company one of the Boy Scouts' biggest donors.


In November, UPS (UPS) took Intel's lead and responded to a Change.org petition by withdrawing its support from the Boy Scouts, which the company says is in violation of its charitable wing's anti-discrimination policies. UPS gave the scouts $150,000 in 2010, which is a fraction of Intel's contribution but still sorely missed when it's reduced to $0. Not surprisingly, The New York Times announced Tuesday that the Boy Scouts were seriously rethinking their ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders.


It's still uncertain whether any of this will influence the Supreme Court's upcoming review of the Defense of Marriage Act or the continued push for the alternate Respect For Marriage Act and extend more than 1,000 federal benefits to married same-sex couples. However, whenever companies like Google (GOOG), Hyatt (H), Exelon (EXC) and Orbitz (OWW) put their cash behind gay rights -- as they did by signing an open letter to Illinois lawmakers voicing their support for gay marriage in that state -- revenue-minded politicians and voters tend to listen.


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Tags: Politics
16Comments
Feb 1, 2013 12:07AM
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It is quite clear who CEO Bill Marriott's god is...
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
--Matthew 6:24
Jan 31, 2013 4:45PM
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LostOnEarth -- the  hypocrisy of your position is beyond belief.  Do you eat shellfish?  Have you ever eaten a shrimp cocktail?  Have you ever worn a shirt made of two different fibers?  Have you ever eaten crops which were in a mixed-rotation field?  Leviticus is filled with "abominations," yet people like you select only those "abominations" which are expedient to your cause when debating the issue of gay marriage and gay relationships.  Some of you have the unmitigated gall -- the sheer effrontery -- to argue that some of the prohibitions in Leviticus are merely "ceremonial" whereas others are "moral" -- which would be amusing were it not the case that people like you arrogate to yourselves the right to discern the difference.

 

We have heard this old hack before.  Come up with something original.

 

PHILIP CHANDLER

Jan 30, 2013 8:38PM
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Most liberals don't know the difference between right and wrong because they have abandoned all Christian & Jewish  teachings so how can you reason with people who think that only they have the right to impose whatever answers their selfish needs? Allowing Gay Marriages to enter into our society will destroy the foundation of a nation that was formed under God's influence.
Jan 30, 2013 7:32PM
Jan 31, 2013 12:33PM
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“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” 
 
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Jan 30, 2013 5:56PM
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ANYONE WHO OPOSES THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT MOSTLY IS  AN ATHIEST AND HAS LIVED A LIFE CONTRARY TO HORMAL LIVING STANDARDS. SAME SEX UNIONS CANNOT PRODUCE CHILDREN. WHY SHOULD WE ENCOURAGE THIS AS A LIFESTYLE THAT HARMS  NORMAL LIVING WITH CHILDREN GROWING UP IN A HOME WITHOUT A MAMA OR A PAPA.
Jan 30, 2013 5:41PM
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Yes, Marriott is on the fence on this issue. My partner of 35 years and I will be married
soon and yes, even though I have always loved Marriott's hotels and service, we will
not be giving them our hard-earned $$$$$.
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