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Google On Our Side: Corporations Weigh In on Gay Marriage

L.K. Regan

Several weeks ago, RealJock reported on a boycott organized by gay activists against the Del Mar Hyatt Regency Hotel. Doug Manchester, owner of the hotel, donated $125,000 to a group supporting Proposition 8, the November ballot initiative that would, if passed, end same-sex marriage in California. As the election draws near, the forces on either side of Proposition 8 are gathering, with more of the business community weighing in. This week, Google joined the fray with an announcement that the company, which has 20,000 employees, would officially oppose the proposition.

Google's announcement appeared on one of the company's blogs, and was written by Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder and its President of Technology. In his blog post, Brin wrote that, though Google had originally not intended to take an official position on Proposition 8, the company's collective mind was changed: "While there are many objections to this proposition—further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text—it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8—we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love."

Whether Google's opposition to Proposition 8 will involve concrete action beyond this announcement is as yet unclear. Still, the announcement itself puts the corporation in the very small group of companies that have taken public stances on the ballot measure. Two other companies—Levi Strauss & Co., and Pacific Gas & Electric—have become involved in the movement to oppose Proposition 8. Both are co-chairs of the No On Prop 8 Equality Business Council, and PG&E has given $250,000 to the No On 8 campaign. Levi Strauss & Co. has a particularly strong record on gay rights: In 1992 they were the first Fortune 500 company to grant health benefits to employees' partners regardless of marital status, and PG&E was the only California company to file a brief in support of gay marriage with the state's Supreme Court during the 2007 court case.

Beyond these three businesses, the pro and contra-Prop 8 movements have largely involved contributions by individual business persons. Whether one should attribute their choices to the companies for which they work is a matter of some controversy. But, if you want to start your own boycott, you can visit the website of Californians Against Hate, where a list of CEOs and business owners who favor the proposition is being maintained.