Thursday was the deadline for friend-of-the-court briefs to be submitted in a key U.S. Supreme Court case that looks at the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and there seems to be 278 different companies – keyed by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), three of the most popular hedge-fund holdings – which joined to file a brief in support of gay marriage. But while the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of laws, these companies have teamed up to take the argument that gay marriage rights is about being good for business.
DOMA is a federal law signed by President Clinton in the late 1990s, denying same-sex couples many of the same benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. In trying to make a case that the law is discriminatory, the brief by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the others writes that the Act adversely affects business relationships “because it “requires that employers treat one employee differently from another, when each is married, and each marriage is equally lawful.”
The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), et al., brief adds that the Act seems to be a particular burden for major companies that have operations in various states, some of which may recognize gay marriage while others do not.
“DOMA conscripts [companies] to become the face of its mandate that two separate castes of married persons be identified and separately treated,” the brief reads. “In the modern workplace, the employer becomes the face of DOMA’s discriminatory treatment, and is placed in the role of intrusive inquisitor, imputer of taxable income, and withholder of benefits.”
The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in March about DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 – the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution that was ruled unconstitutional in a lower court – on back-to-back days in March.
What do you think about these companies getting involved in the legal arguments about DOMA? Do you think Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) are facing any risks by stepping into an issue that could be considered divisive? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
DISCLOSURE: I own no positions in any stock mentioned.
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