Tech firms celebrate gay rights wins

Leading U.S. technology companies were strongly supportive of the Supreme Court's rulings today affirming that LGBT Americans will receive federal recognition of their marriages.

President Obama called plaintiffs in the Court cases today to congratulate them

Leading U.S. technology companies were strongly supportive of the Supreme Court's rulings today affirming that LGBT Americans will receive federal recognition of their marriages (where legal) as well as due process and equal protection under the law.

California headquartered Google was the most effusive. The company configured an "Easter egg" on its search page to display a rainbow themed logo - the primary symbol of the LGBT civil rights movement - when relevant keywords were used. It launched a nationwide campaign to legalize gay marriage last summer and has organized a network of gay employees everywhere it operates called "Gayglers."

Google's "gay" Easter egg

Apple issued this statement about the Court's decisions: "Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today." The company, along with 300 other major U.S. corporations, signed a brief last February demanding that DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, be struck down on constitutional grounds for its employees' benefit.

HP's LGBT employees group said, "HP has more than 30 years of partnership with and participation in pride events, and works throughout the year to build and strengthen HP as an organization that values all employees, customers and communities."

Facebook didn't stake an official corporate position, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg was very positive about the Court's decision on his timeline, saying, "I'm proud that our country is moving in the right direction, and I'm happy for so many of my friends and their families. #PrideConnectsUs."

"I think there are a number of reasons they are exuberant. First is an HR consideration. The hi-tech companies recruit widely, so they have been among the first to provide benefits to gay partners and/or spouses. It's similar in academia. A second aspect stems from concentrations of these companies either in Silicon Valley - close to the SF LGBT hub - or Seattle, a well-known laid-back area," Arthur Hochner, a human resources professor and president & chief Negotiator at Temple Association of University Professionals, wrote in an e-mail.

"Third, tech companies could not care less what sexual orientation their employees have because so much of their activity is online, not requiring the old corporate, in-person straight-jacket (pun intended) conformity. Fourth, it's a cultural thing, both the culture of tech - libertarian and youth-orientation. Since Stonewall, there has been so much more visibility of gays/lesbians in society as a whole, so those who are 40 or younger are much more likely to have gay friends or at least to know gay/lesbian people. And high tech companies are younger themselves than older industries," Hochner continued.

Other U.S. tech leaders including Cisco, Dell, eBay, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Intuit, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec, and Yahoo have received top scores for "corporate equality" by LGBT lobby group the Human Rights Campaign.

See President Obama calling the Prop 8 plaintiffs:

(Image credits: White House/ Twitter, David Worthington)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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