updated 07:58 pm EST, Tue February 26, 2013
Corporate amicus curae brief filed with Supreme Court
Apple is joining with at least 60 other large corporations in submitting a filing to the Supreme Court in support of extending marriage rights to gay people and against California's Proposition 8, continuing the iPhone maker's long record of supporting equal rights for homosexual couples. Other "friend of the court" filings are coming from diverse sources, including one that includes over 75 well-known Republican leaders -- including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, among others.
The filing is specifically related to a case before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which passed with narrow public support to end legal gay marriage in the state of California. Opponents argue that despite the voter outcome, the proposition was fundamentally unconstitutional in that it denied some citizens equal protection under the law, where no local or state ordinance can undermine that precept. That point is also the underlying argument of a second case that will be heard by the court as well, targeting the Defense of Marriage Act. The second case has a much larger group of corporate and government amicus curae filings, numbering over 200 at present.
Other tech or tech-related companies supporting Apple in the anti-Prop 8 case include Ebay, Nike, Oracle, Office Depot, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Xerox, Zynga, Intel and Facebook. Apple publicly opposed Proposition 8 in a rare political stance when it was originally proposed, even donating $100,000 to an anti-8 campaign -- and has long supported equal benefits for its employees regardless of sexual orientation. The companies say in the briefs that workplace morale and recruiting are harmed in states that don't explicitly allow marriage equality. Currently, nine states support the right of gay couples to be married in civil ceremonies identical to heterosexual marriages.
The cases are not just about the right of gays to get married to same-sex partners -- there are myriad tax breaks and benefits given to married couples (and even common-law "married" heterosexual couples) that are not extended to gay couples, and homosexuals continue to face legal discrimination in housing, adoption, job opportunities and many other areas of life that would appear to support the community's contention that their constitutional rights are being systematically violated by both federal and local governments. Former Bush Solicitor General Theodore Olsen and former Senate Judiciary lead counsel David Boies -- who famously opposed each other in the 2000 presidential election Supreme Court fight -- have teamed up to oppose Proposition 8 in various cases leading to this Supreme Court hearing.
After an initial obligation to defend the Defense of Marriage law in court, the Obama administration and Justice Department have filed briefs supporting its dismissal. The President himself entered office willing to consider "civil unions" for gays but was against marriage equality. Over time, he has clearly changed his mind on the issue -- saying that time and encounters with committed gay couples (ranging from White House employees to parents of his children's friends) led him to overcome "generational" thinking and more fully support equality for same-sex marriage.
Opening arguments for the two separate cases are scheduled to begin on March 26 and 27. The Proposition 8 case has the formal name of Hollingsworth v. Perry, while the Defense of Marriage challenge is know as United States v. Windsor.