Human Rights Campaign Mobilizes Over 220 Businesses & More than 43,000 Supporters to Rally Behind Respect for Marriage Act Senate Vote

by Aryn Fields

IBM, Starbucks, Petco, Adobe Inc. and Prudential among the companies that have signed onto the letter urging U.S. Senators to codify marriage equality

With Congress now back in session and passing the Respect for Marriage Act a top priority in the Senate, the Human Rights Campaign is mobilizing 226 major businesses representing over 8.5 million employees, its more than 3 million highly engaged members and supporters, and the nation’s 62 million “Equality Voters” to call on the U.S. Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA). The legislation that would nationally codify federal marriage equality by guaranteeing the federal rights, benefits and obligations of marriages in the federal code; repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); and affirm that public acts, records and proceedings are recognized by all states.

“As we lead up to a Senate vote for the Respect for Marriage Act, we are so close to codifying marriage equality as the law of our land — so close to ensuring that everyone will have the freedom to love who they love without fear that their right to do so may be taken away in the future,” said Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President. “When we rally our individual voices into one united roar, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. I celebrate the thousands of people who have picked up the phone or written a letter to their senator. And I thank the 226 businesses who have joined the fight for LGBTQ+ equality on behalf of their employees and customers, for whom this is entirely personal. But we cannot let up; we must continue to dig in, do the hard work, and demand that the Respect for Marriage Act is passed and signed into law.”

In the aftermath of Dobbs, it is more important than ever that Congress enshrine court-protected civil liberties into law. In July, the Respect for Marriage Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives 267-157, garnering 47 Republican votes — proving that support for marriage equality is widespread and bipartisan. In August, HRC announced that 173 businesses had signed on to a letter calling for passage of the bill. That number of businesses has now increased to 226.

“IBM, joined by more than 220 other companies, proudly signed this letter urging the U.S. Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act to protect marriage equality for the purposes of federal law,” said Carla Grant Pickens, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, IBM. “No American should fear the legality of their marriage or adoption, and this legislation gives Congress a chance to affirm our American values of equality and fairness for all.”

“We must fight to ensure marriage equality remains the law of the land. Aligned with our inclusive values and longstanding support of the LGBTQ+ community, KIND proudly supports the Respect for Marriage Act and urges the Senate to vote in favor of protecting marriage equality nationwide,” said Russell Stokes, CEO, Kind.

“It’s time for leaders to demonstrate conviction for the fair and equitable treatment of everyone. At Logitech, we stand up for equality in all its forms and are proud to continue our support of HRC and its efforts to pass the Respect for Marriage Act,” said Bracken Darrell, CEO, Logitech.

Since the RFMA passed the House:

  • 226 companies signed on to a letter to Senators urging them to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. These companies:
    • Employ more than 8.5 million U.S.-based employees

    • Are headquartered across 27 states and the District of Columbia, with employees and operations in all 50 states

    • Represent a diversity of sectors, including banking and financial services, technology, telecommunications, entertainment, hospitality, retail and transportation.

  • 43,942 HRC members, supporters and volunteers have taken action through either email or phone call to their senators

  • Over 10,000 phone calls have been initiated by HRC supporters to their respective senators, including:
    • Over 600 calls in Pennsylvania

    • Over 500 calls in Ohio

    • Over 500 calls in Texas

    • Over 500 calls in Florida

    • Over 400 calls in North Carolina

    • Over 300 calls in Missouri

  • Over 33,000 emails have been initiated by HRC supporters to their respective senators, including:
    • Over 2,900 emails in Pennsylvania

    • Over 2,500 emails in Ohio

    • Over 1,800 emails in Florida

    • Over 1,800 emails in North Carolina

    • Over 1,700 emails in Texas

    • Over 1,600 emails in Indiana

Over 220 Major Businesses Join the HRC Sign-On Letter to Urge U.S. Senate to Pass the Respect for Marriage Act

HRC mobilized 226 businesses to join a sign-on letter urging senators to pass The Respect for Marriage Act, the letter was hand delivered to the Senate last month. The open letter states that the company signatories value diversity and inclusion in the workplace and encourages senators to federally codify marriage equality.

Signatories on the letter include: Adobe Inc., Omnicom, Vail Resorts, Carbon Health, Petco, Prudential, PVH, Link Logistics, Sysco, Starbucks, WPP, Google, Bloomberg, Motive, Kind, Logitech, Lyft, Bayer, IBM, Lush, Ecolab, BP, Uber, Ascentia Brands & Talbots, Kohl’s, McKesson, Group M and Match Group.

Key Excerpts from the Letter Below:

“Fairness, equal treatment, and opportunity are central to our corporate values because we care about our employees and the customers we serve. Americans from all walks of life, across demographics, geographies, and party lines agree that loving, committed couples have the right to be respected and protected under the law.”

“[This bill] will help to ensure marriage equality, eliminate confusion for employers and enable us to retain and attract talent. No person, including same-sex couples and interracial couples protected by this bill, should fear their marriage will not be recognized by the federal government or their employment benefits threatened.”

“Inclusive business practices improve our bottom lines and lead to more productive and engaged employees, increased customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, improved competitiveness and financial performance.”

More Than Two-Thirds of People Support Marriage Equality

According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples. 55% of Republicans support same-sex marriage, along with 83% of Democrats and 73% of Independents. The latest survey from PRRI this year found that support for marriage equality has increased by 14 percentage points since 2014 (54%). Today, majorities of most religious groups favor marriage equality. White evangelical Protestants (35%) and Latter-day Saints (46%) remain the only major religious groups with less than majority support for marriage equality. According to the last Census, about 58% (568,000) of couples in the nation’s 980,000 same-sex households were married and about 42% were unmarried partners.

HRC is uniquely positioned to engage our members, supporters and business allies in favor of this legislation. We are mobilizing our grassroots army of more than 3 million members, supporters and volunteers to reach out to their Senators and encourage them to pass this important legislation. Additionally, HRC has identified 62 million “Equality Voters” nationwide for whom LGBTQ+ equality is a make-or-break issue that we are mobilizing in support of this effort through an aggressive outreach campaign.

Key Provisions of the Bill

The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that marriage equality is protected nationally through several provisions:

  • Repealing the 1990s era Defense of Marriage Act. Passed in 1996, it discriminated in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations and rulings applicable to all other married people — thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. DOMA was rendered unenforceable, in two stages, by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor v. United States ruling and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.

  • Establishing that “place of celebration” is the standard of recognition for federal benefits of a same-sex marriage. Under this provision, if marriage equality was ever to cease to be recognized in a given state, same-sex couples who travel to get married in another state — one where same-sex marriages are still recognized — would still retain federal marriage benefits.

  • Affirming that public acts, records and proceedings should be recognized by all states. Adoption orders, divorce decrees and other public acts must be honored by all states consistent with the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution.

  • Codifying the federal protections conferred by the Windsor and Obergefell rulings. These landmark rulings stated that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional.

Washington Post Op-Ed: The Senate must stand together on marriage equality

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, published a joint op-ed in The Washington Post calling on their colleagues to come together and emulate the bipartisan vote that the Respect For Marriage Act received in the House of Representatives.

Key Excerpts from the Baldwin and Collins Op-Ed:

“Individuals in same-sex and interracial marriages need, and should have, the confidence that their marriages are legal. These loving couples should be guaranteed the same rights and freedoms of every other marriage.”

“Over the past 30 years, Americans have grown more supportive of marriage equality. In 1996, less than one-third of Americans — a mere 27 percent — supported same-sex marriages. A quarter-century later, in 2022, more than 70 percent of Americans support marriage equality, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents.”

“This legislation has earned bipartisan support in Congress because it grants same-sex and interracial couples the certainty that they will continue to enjoy the same equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples.”

“We have worked across party lines to bring the Senate together and build support for the Respect for Marriage Act because we should be able to agree that same-sex and interracial couples, regardless of where they live, both need and deserve the assurance that their marriage will be recognized by the federal government and that they will continue to enjoy freedoms, rights and responsibilities that come with all other marriages.”

Read More:

NBC Op-Ed from HRC President Joni Madison: Opponents of Marriage Equality Face an Uphill Battle

CNN Op-Ed from Match Group’s Jared Sine: Americans should be able to marry whoever they choose. But some senators don't support protecting that right

Washington Post Editorial: Senators, pass the Respect for Marriage Act

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: Congress Should Codify Same-Sex Marriage

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