February 7, 2012, San Francisco—Out & Equal Workplace Advocates applauds the ruling by the three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeal that upholds an earlier court’s ruling that Proposition 8, and the ban on same sex marriage in California, is unconstitutional. It is expected that the case will move on to the U.S. Supreme Court and could have nationwide implications for same sex marriage if the nation’s highest court decides to hear the case.
“This ruling takes us one step closer to full equality under the law,” commented Selisse Berry, the founding executive director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “The judges recognized that all Californians deserve to be treated fairly and equally, with the same rights and responsibilities of marriage.”
The ruling also addressed a challenge made by opponents of same sex marriage that Judge Vaughn Walker, the judge who oversaw the trial, should have recused himself because he is a gay man and in a relationship. The appeals panel ruled that Justice Walker’s sexual orientation was not relevant to his decision in the case. “The fair application of our laws requires that all judges decide each case on its merits, and that a judge recuses herself or himself when that is not possible,” Berry continued. “To suggest that Judge Walker was incapable of impartiality in this case simply because he is gay is offensive; just as suggesting that a female judge could not rule on a case that impacts women would be insulting. We are heartened that the appeals panel understood and upheld this principle of fairness.”
Out & Equal notes that the denial of marriage benefits to same sex couples is costly for both businesses and individuals. Employers committed to full equality in the workplace are subjected to increased payroll taxes when they offer equal benefits to all of their employees. Businesses operating in more than one state are forced to comply with a patchwork of laws, where some states recognize same sex marriage and others do not. America’s largest and most vibrant employers—including a majority of the Fortune 500 companies—provide job protections and benefits for their LGBT employees and their partners. You can learn more at The Business Case for Marriage Equality, available on our website.
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, founded in 1999, is committed to ending employment discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. We believe that people should be judged by the work they do, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Every day, we work to protect and empower employees to be productive and successful—so they can support themselves, their families, and contribute to achieving a world free of discrimination for everyone.