US: Business coalition formed to push for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act

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A coalition of businesses has formed in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, to allow equal marriage recognition to same-sex couples federally.

The Human Rights Campaign announced the launch of the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal, which includes high-profile companies such as Armani, Marriott, eBay, and Thomson Reuters.

A statement on the Human Rights Campaign’s website read: “The Human Rights Campaign announced today the formation of a business coalition made up of Fortune 500 and brand name companies that support ending federal discrimination against married gay and lesbian couples.

“The new Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal is throwing its support behind the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and recognizes all legal marriages for federal purposes.”

David Rodriguez, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Marriott International, part of the coalition, released a statement.

He said: “Marriott was founded on the principle of putting its people first, and that includes our LGBT associates… We are proud of our longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion and equal treatment of all our employees within our benefits programs. Joining the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal affirms that commitment, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation.”

Thomson Reuters released a statement via Patsy Doerr, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion.

It read: “We’re proud to join the HRC and our coalition partners in supporting this important initiative that reflects Thomson Reuters own principles and policies on diversity, inclusion, fairness and equality.”

The Human Rights Campaign president, Chad Griffin said: “These corporate pioneers understand one marriage deserves no less respect and dignity than any other marriage,

“They understand that repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is the right thing for our nation, and the smart thing for American business.  We call on both large and small businesses to add their voices to the growing chorus calling for an end to this odious law.”

In its statement, the Human Rights Campaign goes on to say: “The Respect for Marriage Act has attracted bipartisan support. Republican Reps.  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), and Charles Bass (R-NH) were among those supporting the bill in the last Congress. Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have sponsored the legislation in the House and Senate, and are likely to reintroduce it in the current Congress next month.”

The full list of companies signed up to the coalition comprises of: A|X Armani Exchange, Aetna Inc, Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Diageo North America, eBay Inc., Electronic Arts, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Marriott, Replacements, Ltd, Sun Life Financial US, and Thomson Reuters.

A link to the campaign, and for new businesses to sign up to it, can be found here.

Nine states currently allow equal marriage, and the District of Columbia. Recent polls have shown strong majorities of Americans support equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Several states have found that DOMA is unconstitutional, and although it has not been repealed, in February 2011, President Barack Obama said his administration would cease enforcing the federal ban on equal marriage.