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Disney, CBS and Viacom Lend Names to Brief Opposing Defense of Marriage Act

The Walt Disney Co., Viacom and CBS Corp. are among the hundreds of companies that signed on to an amicus brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, which will come before the Supreme Court along with the Proposition 8 case in late March.

Also signing the brief were Wasserman Media Group,
Electronic Arts, Google, Facebook, Twitter and the Jim Henson Co.

A central argument is that denial of same-sex marriage benefits at the
federal level puts an undue burden on companies, because of the
conflicting web of laws from state to state.

“It puts us, as employers, to unnecessary cost and administrative complexity, and regardless of our business or professional judgment forces us to treat one class of our lawfully married employees differently than another, when our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees,” the brief reads.

Spokesmen for Disney and CBS had no comment, and a spokesman for Viacom had no immediate comment.

A group of companies also filed an amicus brief opposing Proposition 8, but no media comglomerates were among them. The 100 or so companies that did sign included Google, Facebook, Verizon, Cablevision and the Jim
Henson Co.

The brief characterizes California’s ban on same-sex marriage as an hindrance to recruitment as well as affecting morale. “No matter how welcoming the corporate culture, it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws,” the brief against Prop 8 states. “That stigma dehumanizes; it deprives gay men and lesbians of the solidity of married family life that heterosexuals take for granted and makes it more difficult for gay men and lesbians to perform at the highest level in the workplace. Such laws also make it difficult to recruit, hire, and retain some of the top employees who choose not to live in states where they are relegated to second-class-citizen status and prefer instead other states (or countries)—where amici may not have offices or open positions—where their fundamental right to marry is recognized.”

As unusual as the participation of the companies in a civil rights case is, corporate America has generally been ahead of the curve compared to federal and state government entities when it comes to recognition of same-sex couples. It was unclear why the same media companies didn’t sign on to the Prop 8 briefs. They generally refrained from lending their names or financial support during the campaign against Proposition 8 in 2008.

The companies’ Prop 8 amicus brief is here.

The companies’ DOMA
brief is here.

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