Google, Levi Strauss and Co., H5 and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce joined forces and filed an Application for Leave to File Amici Brief with respect to the interest of these companies in the repeal or annulment of gay marriages legally performed as a result of the Court’s ruling, In re Marriage Cases decision, (2008) 43 Cal.4th 757. As you likely already know, that case required businesses and the State of California to provide gay married couples with the “basic substantive and legal rights traditionally associated with marriage…” The “Business Amici” as they are referred to in the Application, state that after the Order of the Court and relying on the Court, they:
- extended credit in reliance upon California’s laws applicable to community property and the joint obligation of married persons for community debts;
- calculated and paid withholding amounts for California income tax purposes for gay married individuals;
- revised benefit plans to expressly include gay employees’ lawful spouses;
- extended to same-sex spouses benefits under the California Continuation Benefits Replacement Act;
- took advantage of state tax reporting privileges based on married status where the business was owned by married gay couples;
- honored the State Disability Insurance and/or the California Family Rights Act by extending state mandated paid leave to married gay people
The brief examines the issue of how one’s marital status can matter in daily life and does so with a passion that is rare in the legal profession. The Business Amici go on to state:
[We] believe this presentation helps to illuminate the nature of the change in California government that Proposition 8 would have caused if it is decided here that a group of citizens can be ejected by mere majority vote from the institution of marriage, or any important institution, or be deprived of other important rights, for being different in a legally irrelevant way. It would mean minorities no longer have meaningful shelter within the California Constitution.
They go on to discuss
… the substantial and serious negative impact upon those business who were obligated by this Court’s Marriage Cases decision to recognize gay couples’ marriages and to afford those married people the same ‘basic substantive and legal rights traditionally associated with marriage… [emphasis added]
The Amici Businesses believe that the annulment of those marriages entered into prior to the passing of Proposition 8 will require them to target their gay employs by invading their privacy rights and recovering monies for health benefits provided to their spouses and children.
It is nice to see such esteemed businesses coming forward to protect and defend the rights of their employees regardless of motivation. Some motivating factors (other than the humanitarian factors) include the large amount of time, money and expense that will be devoted to removing the rights and benefits these companies have already provided to same-gender married couples. Solving this problem will require numerous administrative hours and incur significant expense further depreciating an already strained economy.