Silicon Valley's history of gay marriage support

Google celebrates DOMA's death with rainbow search bar

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
June 26, 2013
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In a historic ruling, our buddies on the Supreme Court have officially struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. To celebrate, Google has hidden a delightful little Easter Egg for everyone. If you type in "gay" or "gay marriage," the search bar lights up in rainbow colors. 

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that section three of DOMA, which defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman, was in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. In a separate ruling, the SCOTUS found that the proponents of California’s Prop 8 (which defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman) did not have standing to appeal a federal district court ruling that struck down the law as unconstitutional. So in effect, Prop 8 remains unconstitutional.

Google and other Silicon Valley heavyweights have often been very vocal in their support of gay rights. Last year, Google released a video of gay Google employees explaining how they’re impacted by laws prohibiting gay marriage. At the time, Maine, Minnesota, Washington, and Maryland were all considering gay marriage ballot initiatives. All four have since passed.

Apple and Facebook added their own clout to an amicus brief released earlier this year in support of gay marriage, when the Supreme Court began hearing arguments back in March. Dozens of companies signed the brief, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Intel, Cisco, and Qualcomm among others, to argue that gay marriage bans harm workplace morale and undermine recruiting.

“No matter how welcoming the corporate culture, it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws,” the corporate brief argued.

And while not in Silicon Valley, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos personally donated $2.5 million to a Washington gay-rights group when Washington was considering a gay marriage ballot initiative. 

And back in 2011, Google, Apple, and Facebook released videos as part of the “It Gets Better” campaign to prevent gay teen suicide.

Apple CEO Tim Cook topped Out Magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful gay men and women in America for the third year in a row in 2013. The list includes “gay men and women whose power and prestige is instrumental in influencing the way Americans think about, and engage with, the world.”

Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Court doesn’t exactly endorse the right for gay couples to marry—which means the 30 states that currently do not recognize same-sex marriage will not be impacted. But it does mean that states will not be prevented from enacting legislation recognizing same-sex marriage.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”


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Technology trends and news by Faith Merino