NOM's Corporate Fairness Director on Ensuring Pro-Marriage Employees Treated Fairly


Jonathan Baker, director of NOM's Corporate Fairness Project, is interviewed in this Stateline article about Washington State companies injecting themselves in the marriage debate:

"... according to the [SSM] bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Senator Ed Murray, there was nothing more crucial to the legalization of gay marriage than support from high-profile businesses such as Nike and Microsoft. "It's how we got moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats to vote for this,” he says.

... gay rights activists have built aggressively from their original base of industry support. Some gay rights groups have hired lobbyists whose sole focus is reaching out to business leaders.

Those efforts culminated in more than 100 businesses publicly supporting gay marriage in Washington State before the bill’s passage in February, from heavy-hitting corporations such as Starbucks, Google and Alcoa to mom and pop shops scattered around the state. Small business support was key to turning individual legislators, who “know their local businesses,” Murray says.

... the National Organization for Marriage [has] taken notice of this trend. In response they have launched their own effort, called the Corporate Fairness Project, to pressure businesses to stay neutral in the debate. “I don’t believe that you can work for a company that has taken a position on this and feel that both sides are well represented,” says Jonathan Baker, director of the Corporate Fairness Project. “Both sides should be able to go to work and feel comfortable. By a company taking a corporate position on the matter, they are automatically going to make one side or the other feel a little less comfortable about it.”

Baker’s group is also working to ensure that companies don’t discriminate against employees because they oppose gay marriage, which Baker insists is happening with some regularity. Bank of America and Cisco came under fire from the National Organization for Marriage for terminating their relationships with leadership consultant Frank Turek because of his vocal opposition to gay marriage. They both subsequently reinstated him as an eligible vendor in good standing. "As we see more and more companies jumping into the marriage debate,” Baker says, “we think it's certainly a risk that could grow."