WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign announced Jan. 28 the formation of a business coalition made up of Fortune 500 and brand name companies that support ending federal discrimination against legally married gay and lesbian couples. Currently, because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lawfully married same-sex couples are not recognized by the federal government and are thereby denied more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits — including filing taxes jointly, taking unpaid leave to care for a sick spouse, and Social Security survivor benefits — that come with marriage.
The new Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal is throwing its support behind the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and recognizes all legal marriages for federal purposes. The Respect for Marriage Act has attracted bipartisan support. Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), and Charles Bass (R-NH) were among those supporting the bill in the last Congress. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have sponsored the legislation in the House and Senate, and are likely to reintroduce it in the current Congress next month.
"Marriott was founded on the principle of putting its people first, and that includes our LGBT associates," said David Rodriguez, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Marriott International. "We are proud of our longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion and equal treatment of all our employees within our benefits programs. Joining the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal affirms that commitment, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation."
Joining Marriott as members of the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal are: A|X Armani Exchange, Aetna Inc., Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Diageo North America, eBay Inc., Electronic Arts, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Replacements, Ltd., Sun Life Financial U.S., and Thomson Reuters. Aside from being fundamentally unfair to married same-sex couples, DOMA also causes administrative headaches and tax inequities for companies as they simply try to treat their employees fairly. The coalition continues to grow as more companies take a stand and affirm that DOMA is bad for business.
"We're proud to join the HRC and our coalition partners in supporting this important initiative that reflects Thomson Reuters' own principles and policies on diversity, inclusion, fairness and equality," said Patsy Doerr, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Thomson Reuters.
Gay and lesbian couples can lawfully marry in nine states and the District of Columbia, and polls show strong majorities of Americans favor treating gay and lesbian couples fairly and equally.
"These corporate pioneers understand one marriage deserves no less respect and dignity than any other marriage," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "They understand that repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is the right thing for our nation, and the smart thing for American business. We call on both large and small businesses to add their voices to the growing chorus calling for an end to this odious law."