Our Statement on Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito on the right to same-sex marriage

Out Leadership read with great concern the three-and-half-page statement from Justice Clarence Thomas, supported by Justice Samuel Alito, criticizing the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision recognizing the right to same-sex marriage (see SCOTUS, Kim Davis V. David Ermold, et all No. 19–926. Decided October 5, 2020 link).

Their bizarre view that “the Court has created a problem [with its 2015 decision] that only it can fix. Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty” is not only at odds with bi-partisan public attitude in America, with two in three Americans (67%) saying marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, but also with that of the private sector.

While Out Leadership and its 80+ member companies strongly believe in the freedom of individuals to express their religion and beliefs both in private and public, it also knows that this freedom can never be a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, their children, families, and communities.

In countless studies, Out Leadership and its partners such as The Williams Institute at UCLA (disclaimer: our Founder & CEO, Todd Sears is a Board Member) have shown that inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, beyond LGBTQ+ workers’ well-being, has a beneficial effect for companies on recruitment and retention, ideas and innovation, customer service, productivity, customer base, and employee relations and morale. In a context of deep racial injustice in America, Out Leadership has found that inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace is also a signal of an inclusive work environment for all minorities.

The now broad corporate support for same-sex marriage has grown steadily since 2011 when 48 businesses and nearly two dozen other employer organizations had signed on to a federal court brief opposing DOMA. By 2013, 278 companies were urging the Court to strike down DOMA. In 2015, 379 economic giants such as Out Leadership members Goldman Sachs, EY or The Dow Chemicals Company signed an amicus brief to the Court, organized by Out Leadership and its partners, citing four ways the patchwork of state laws applicable to same-sex marriage hurt business. In the brief, these companies argued that marriage discrimination “impose a significant burden on us and harm our ability to attract and retain the best employees.”

Businesses showed similar support in several other markets where Out Leadership is present. In 2017, the Australia’s business community overwhelmingly backed the ‘Yes’ campaign in the same-sex marriage postal survey.

For the same reason, companies have already rallied in opposition to so-called religious bills in North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri or Indiana, which would have permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people based on religious beliefs, citing negative economic consequences. 

This is why, Out Leadership will continue to leverage the power of the private sector to fight so-called “religious exemption laws and policies” that have a disproportionately negative impact on LGBTQ+ workers both in America and Australia where they are appearing. It will also campaign for passing the “Equality Act” in the United States to protect these workers from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Finally, it will continue to harness corporate support for same-sex marriage in jurisdictions where progress is in sight, such as Japan.

When it comes to LGBTQ+ equality, the private sector is resolutely at odds with the views expressed this week by Justices Thomas and Alito that it could be reversed. In fact, according to research from our partners at The Williams Institute, an estimated 293,000 same-sex couples have married since Obergefell. As these couples married, their weddings generated an economic boost for state and local economies nationwide. We estimate that wedding spending by these couples and their out-of-state guests has boosted state and local economies by an estimated $3.8 billion and generated an estimated $244.1 million in state and local sales tax revenue since the Obergefell decision. This spending supported an estimated 45,000 jobs for one full year.