Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Price Of Love

I'm unclear if those opposed to marriage equality have started their campaign yet. It's hard to tell: we had a statement from bishops, of course, but the slice of the population that turns to them for moral guidance dwindled long ago. Indeed if anything support for marriage equality jumped after they launched their sixteen page document. I wrote about it, twice, but expected a more comprehensive front to emerge.

I had hopes for the cumbersomely named "Defend Marriage in Ireland: Husband And Wife" group. From what I can tell they're the Facebook account of Manif Pour Tous Ireland, and, while they have only 358 followers at present, I can confidently say that up to 13% of their followers actually hail from Hibernia. Perhaps this will grow. They're fairly good at facilitating different opinions in their Facebook discussions so it's worth popping over. Do say hi if time allows.

This post seemed a mite odd. It claims that the cost of legislating for marriage equality in the UK was 1.5 billion GBP. The only citation given was a Facebook post by a small, anonymous account so I don't give it much weight, but as part of my counterargument I stole from the King of Iona's playbook and listed some major Irish employers who list marriage equality as something they value.

Now, of course no-one's marriage should have to be justified in terms of economic benefit. I put the below quotes together in case you know someone on the fence about voting yes. If they consider the protection of Irish jobs a compelling reason to pass the referendum then their vote still counts. As the discussion was around non Irish multinationals operating in Ireland I've limited myself to that subset. I've also focused exclusively on the top 100 employers in Ireland, as measured by number of employees. This is mainly due to time constraints; I might revisit the list later. Finally I only include companies that have actively campaigned for or taken legal action in favour of marriage equality. Employee headcounts taken from Irish Times's rather useful www.top1000.ie.

Without further ado:

Intel Ireland: 4,700 Irish jobs. Intel has openly supported and campaigned for marriage equality since 2012.

Citibank: 4,269 jobs. Citi joined in a brief to bring about the repeal of the Defence of Marriage act which barred same sex marriage. Their statement read in part: "As a signatory to the amicus brief in support of Edith Windsor and the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, Citi welcomes today's ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Citi promotes a work environment where diversity is embraced and where our differences are valued and respected.""

HP: 4,000 jobs. HP also campaigned to have the Defence of Marriage act repealed. I quite liked their CEO's reasoning: "Marriage is the fundamental institution that unites a society. It is the single greatest contributor to the well-being of adults and children because it promotes eternal principles like commitment, fidelity and stability. It makes no difference whether the marriage is between a man and woman or a woman and woman."

Apple: 4,000 jobs. Another campaigner against the Defence of Marriage act. "…we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights— including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8."

Pfizer: 3,200 jobs. Signed an amicus brief supporting same gender marriage. The brief reads in part: "We are hampered in our efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible, placing us at a competitive disadvantage. Our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees, without distinction... We recognize the importance of that equality to our employees, and we have seen the real world, positive impact that fostering diversity and inclusion has on our productivity andperformance, just as we have seen the harm that denial of equality causes our businesses."

IBM: 3,000 jobs. Over 18 years ago IBM decided to partially circumvent the ban on same sex marriage by treating employees in long term same sex relationships as spouses for health insurance and other benefits.

EMC: 2,800 jobs. Lobbied in support of Referendum 74, a bill to legalise same sex marriage in Washington state. Their statement read in part: "Creating an inclusive, respectful and open culture at EMC has always been a priority, and we constantly strive to promote equality in our workplace.  Our support of the state’s legislation that provides same-sex couples with the right to civil marriage is another example of our commitment to supporting – and delivering – benefits for domestic partners."

Google: 2,288 jobs. Campaigned against Proposition 8, intended to make same sex marriage illegal: "…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." Sergey Brin, co-founder, Google

PayPal: 1,871 jobs. "eBay [PayPal's parent company] is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision strike down part of DOMA. As a growing global company with a diverse workforce of 31,500 employees worldwide, eBay embraces the core values of non-discrimination, diversity and inclusion. Our support for marriage equality is a natural extension of our support for eBay’s LGBT employees and a reflection of our company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace." They've also lobbied for federal benefits for all married couples, regardless of gender. (Thanks to @Golden_Gaytime for the tip, I'd missed them in the first draft.)

For those counting, the total is 26,128 jobs. I'd like to thank the King of Iona for allowing me to build on his idea. Do read his post for some other Irish employers outside the top 100. If I've missed any pro marriage equality employers I apologise and am happy to amend.

So what is the price of love? If you trust tiny anonymous Facebook accounts it's hundreds of millions. But if you'd rather listen to some of the top international employers in Ireland, legislating for love is just good business sense.

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