By Anna Peirano
Gap Inc. has signed on to the amicus brief that was filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, according to an internal Gap Web employee memo.
Gap Inc. Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Wilma Wallace answered a few questions in the memo about why the company has chosen to take this step in support of same-sex marriage.
She states, “DOMA creates a distinction between our lawfully married employees that is inconsistent with our core values – inclusion and diversity. Although we are not a part of the court case.. we are signing on to a supporitng court brief challenging the law because removing barriers to equitable treatment is important to us.”
Gap has a long history of celebrating equality, inclusion and diversity. The have offered the same medical, dental and vision plans to benefits-eligible employees and their spouses or domestic partners. They also extend their Employee Merchandise Discount to all employees and their partners, regardless of gender, and have featured same-sex couples in their campaigns before.
“We think that it’s important to level the playing field for everyone,” Wallace continues. “If DOMA is declared unconstitutional there would be more conformity in the law which brings simplicity, leading to a better ability to comply and greater equity for all.”
By signing on to an amicus brief, aka “friend of the court,” a company or body has the opportunity to offer the court a perspective from non-involved parties that could none the less be impacted by a ruling.
“This law runs counter to our company’s heritage and long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion and can complicate our ability to provide equitable benefits to our employees and their families.”
According to the Gap memo – eBay, Google, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, Starbucks and Zynga have also signed the brief.
Wallace says, “Ultimately, we’ve taken this step because it is consistent with our values and publicly demonstrates our company’s support for same-sex marriages. It’s fair. It’s equitable. It’s consistent with what we stand for as a company. It’s the right thing to do.”