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Google Challenging Proposition 8 1475

theodp writes "Coming the day after it announced layoffs and office closures, Google's California Supreme Court filing arguing for the overturn of Proposition 8, which asks the Court not to harm its ability to recruit and retain employees, certainly could have been better timed. Google's support of same-sex marriage puts it on the same page with Dan'l Lewin, Microsoft's man in Silicon-Valley, who joined other tech leaders last October to denounce Prop 8 in a full-page newspaper ad. But oddly, Microsoft HR Chief Mike Murray cited religious beliefs for his decision to contribute $100,000 to 'Yes On 8', surprising coming from the guy who had been charged with diversity and sensitivity training during his ten-year Microsoft stint. "
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Google Challenging Proposition 8

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  • I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:51PM (#26485177) Homepage Journal

    why could the timing have been better? how are the two related?

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:54PM (#26485229)

      Google is claiming it's bad because it makes it harder to hire [gay] people, but it just laid off a bunch of people so it's not doing any hiring anyway.

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:59PM (#26485351) Homepage Journal

        The law will last a lot longer than this current recession.

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:01PM (#26485371)

        Well just because they laid off people it doesn't mean they are not hiring. In a changing economy you need people with different skill sets. And most people can't or are not willing to adjust to the different jobs.

        For example are you willing to quit your tech job, and do a marketing job for less money. or would you rather loose your job in hopes of finding an other one.

        • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

          by FireStormZ ( 1315639 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:26PM (#26485869)

          How does this law hurt Googles ability to hire? seriously? Does this law prevent Google from giving same sex partner benefits?

          Under the guise of 'hurts hiring' one could wax a whole bunch of laws that should be in place. Laws *dont* exist to serve corperate interest... okay, okay laws *should* not exist to serve corperate interest.

          • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:58PM (#26486611) Homepage Journal

            Seriously? Jesus, try not to be completely dense. Imagine for a second that you have polka-dot skin, and place you'd like to work for happens to be in Plaidlandia, where people with polka-dot skin are reviled and discriminatory laws are written into the books against them. Would you take the job in Plaidlandia?

            You can fill in other involuntary attributes, places, and such above as needed until a light dawns in your head. (The part of me that thinks that subtly is lost on the clueless really wants to mutter something about being a Jewish, German-speaking chemist in 1933 and immigrating to Germany here, but that seems over the top. :P)

            Hell, I'm as straight as an arrow and Prop 8 gives me pause regards moving to silicon valley. I left Texas partially because I was tired of my work and income supporting an economy full of bigots with a government happy to cater to them, and moving to where a pile of assholes just wrote discrimination (of any sort, regardless of whether I would be affected by it) into their state constitution isn't high on my list of Good Moves.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Chabo ( 880571 )
              Check out New Hampshire. There's some left-leaning people on the west side of the state, and some right-leaning people on the east side, but the whole state has a very libertarian attitude regardless of individual leanings, and there are a bunch of tech-related companies throughout the state.

              I just moved to California cause I was hired here, and while the weather is nice, I do miss the sensibility that I've enjoyed in New Hampshire. The only problem with it is that Massachusetts politics are starting to c
          • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Friday January 16, 2009 @04:24PM (#26487183) Homepage Journal

            This law prevents Google from giving same sex partners benefits for the same price. Insuring two unmarried people is far more expensive than two married people.

      • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:02PM (#26485407) Journal

        Unless Google is marrying them, I don't see how that works.

        I mean, that old joke about being married to your job... it's only a joke.

        • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by butterflysrage ( 1066514 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:06PM (#26485461)

          simple, where would you rather work? Company A where your marriage is legal, you get benefits and tax breaks for that... or Company B where you and your husband/wife are legally "just good friends".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by clone53421 ( 1310749 )

            Company A where your marriage is legal

            Google didn't pass the law. Google also isn't confined to California []:

            Google has offices around the globe, from Bangalore to Zurich, but regardless of where we are, we nurture an invigorating, positive environment by hiring talented, local people who share our commitment to creating search perfection and want to have a great time doing it.

            In other words, if you live in California, the law is the law. Don't blame Google for it. In fact, if you feel like you're forced to move because of the law, you could probably ask to be transferred to another Google location.

            • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

              by butterflysrage ( 1066514 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:27PM (#26485879)

              who's blaming google? But damned if I'm going to live somewhere where my marriage may or may not be legal. Any company from that state would have to work a LOT harder then those in states/countries where I don't need to worry about stuff like that.

              and that is their point. To attract GLBT employees to their Cali locations they need to offer FAR more then other companies do.

            • At least in my admittedly somewhat limited experience. I was looking for a full-timer gig last spring and it came down to Google and another place. Google wanted me to move to Cali for three months at the start of any engagement with them (I guess to give the kool-aid 90 days to work ;)). I got the impression that they were not very flexible about that, either (maybe it's different for international offices? I'm on the east coast of the US). So I can easily see the argument that the laws and environment

        • by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:42PM (#26486199)
          Wait didn't you hear about the new Google Gay Marriage beta? Dude, seriously, get with the times! I'd be more than happy to share my invites.
  • Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:53PM (#26485203) Journal
    So are they being evil here or not? I'm confused.
    • Depends (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Samschnooks ( 1415697 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:08PM (#26485497)

      So are they being evil here or not? I'm confused.

      That depends. If you are against gay marriage, they are evil.

      I don't get it. Of all the things going on in the World today, I don't get why this is such a hot issue. Actually, I don't get why folks are so opposed to it. It doesn't cause them any harm.

      That's pretty much what the problem is with social value "problems" in this country: people sticking their noses in other people's business. Two people of the same sex getting married doesn't harm me. A person marrying a goat doesn't harm me. But yet, some people think the World will come to an end of two people of the same sex get married. So what? What harm does it cause you?! (I'm not speaking to the parent) What, you're afraid your little snowflake will see two people of the same sex kissing each other and think , "Hmmmmm, I'll kiss my buddy Rod!" Again, so what? In many cultures, heterosexual MEN kiss each other. In our culture, heterosexual women kiss each other. So, again, so what?

      Oh wait, your religious book doesn't like it...ooohhhhhh. Which part? The 'Old' part that I think is just Jewish Myth or the 'New' part that's completely loving and forgiving of all folks?

      If it weren't happening I would think it were a script from a Twilight Zone episode. You know, where it's set up where folks hate each other for completely ridiculous reasons to show a point of the script writers. In the old days it was Rod Serling - a Goddamn genius.

  • by thewils ( 463314 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:54PM (#26485223) Journal

    I read that as Google Challenging Preparation H

  • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:59PM (#26485333) Homepage

    surprising coming from the guy who had been charged with diversity and sensitivity training during his ten-year Microsoft stint

    It's surprising only if you assume that anybody who believes the term marriage should remain gender heterogenous must also think the murder of Matthew Shephard was a really good idea.

    I didn't vote yes on 8, but I know a lot of people who did, and their decision had little to do with any lack of sensitivity or exposure to diversity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tumbleweed ( 3706 )

      I didn't vote yes on 8, but I know a lot of people who did, and their decision had little to do with any lack of sensitivity or exposure to diversity.

      Having religious reasons behind ones bigotry doesn't change the fact that it's bigotry. See also: Middle East.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:00PM (#26485367) Journal

    Put aside whatever your thoughts on whether same-sex marriage should be legal or not. Try to look at this from a systems standpoint.

    First, we have a court decision allowing gay marriage. Then, we get a proposition that the voters decide that it should be illegal. Here, we have a very classic case of the voters' wishes versus the concept of legal rights which should not be subject to democratic vote. One side claims that marriage is an inalienable right regardless of gender, and the other side which says this isn't the case. Very deep stuff.

    Now, stirring up the issue are corporations. Where in the hell do corporations belong in this? I am of the classical view that corporations are there to make and distribute money. I've never been comfortable with corporations lobbying lawmakers. I have never been comfortable with corporations donating to causes. Let them make and distribute wealth and let individuals make those choices.

    When corporations get involved with government, it gets ugly. Same with church and state. So regardless of my feelings on Google's position, my thought is they should shut up. If individuals in Google want to take a stand, fine. But when it becomes Google versus the voters, I become uneasy.

  • by Daniel Weis ( 1209058 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:06PM (#26485465)
    "Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition in the November 4, 2008, general election. It changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry, thereby overriding portions of the ruling of In re Marriage Cases."

    Wikipedia Source []

    Google's argument can be summarized as such: The law deters gays and lesbians from taking up residence in California, which is where the majority of Google's employees work. Thus the law is detrimental to Google in that its gay/lesbian employees may want to leave and prospective employees who happen to be gay/lesbian will have more hoops to jump through to work for Google.

    This is particularly bad timing for such a thing as Google is in the process of laying off workers (though it is a very small number - something like 100) and if they are in a position where they have to layoff employees, why are they even talking about hiring employees? Of course the answer to this is simple - Google hopes to grow and something like this will be pertinent in the future - but some people are very shortsighted and will not recognize this.
  • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:15PM (#26485663)
    If Google can win this lawsuit, then any action by Government can be challenged by the same basis. High taxes in California has caused a number of companies to move, and more importantly, a number of individuals. If not being able to hire talent because of gender based marriage gets legal protection, then taxes, school systems, real estate costs.... wow. Maybe I hope they don't win.
  • by Flounder ( 42112 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:17PM (#26485709) something about the oppressive cost of housing in the bay area. something about the oppressive taxes in California. something about the oppressive traffic.
  • by Microsift ( 223381 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:19PM (#26485759)

    States don't marry people, churches do. When a couple goes before a justice of the peace and get married, they're really just entering a civil-union. The state has allowed religious officiants to create these unions as part of a church's marriage ceremony, but they are two distinct institutions. For instance if one get's married in the Catholic church, and later gets a civil divorce the church still views that person as being married. In order to get remarried in the Catholic church, you have to have the first marriage annulled by the church. Conversely, just having one's church marriage annulled doesn't leave one legally eligible for remarriage until they get a civil divorce.

    Of course the source of confusion is that the state refers to civil unions with the religious term marriage. When people hear about gay marriage being legalized, in their minds they think of the religious part of it, and no one likes the state messing around with their religion. If gays are allowed to get married, no church is obligated to marry them. There are plenty of churches that will (some already do) but the state can't mandate that a church violate its religious beliefs.

    Gays need to drop the gay-marriage campaign, and go for civil-unions which are identical, yet more palatable to the general(voting) public.

  • by aardwolf64 ( 160070 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:27PM (#26485883) Homepage

    "charged with diversity and sensitivity training"

    So, he was charged with giving someone a class on diversity and sensitivity? I agree, the people that teach those classes should be punished...

  • by Thai-Pan ( 414112 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:42PM (#26486207) Journal

    Was it really necessary to put an attack on one specific Microsoft employee who supported Prop 8? Microsoft has excellent benefits that are extended to same sex domestic partners. It seems kind of churlish to smear Microsoft by juxtaposing Google's corporate stance on the issue against one Microsoft employee's.

    Come on, there's plenty of other things to attack Microsoft over.

  • by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:44PM (#26486247)
    Thanks Google for "Doing no evil". I'm also glad to see many other companies on board too. Apple and MS included.
  • by StandardCell ( 589682 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:45PM (#26486263)
    The real issue here is why the government is involved in the business of marriage to begin with. Government shouldn't be involved at all in the current fashion.

    What bothers me personally is this artificial dichotomy that people have created surrounding this issue on both sides. This isn't just about gays and lesbians. What about spinster sisters that simply live together and want their civil rights? Boyfriend and girlfriend forever? Polyamorists? Where are their rights? And what about states that automatically deem a couple to be in common-law marriage without them consciously having entered into that contract? None of these issues have been covered by the proponents or opponents of Prop 8.

    Marriage should be replaced by a comprehensive standard (but modifiable) civil contract between two or more consenting adults like any other business contract. Whether one goes to a church to get married, or to a lawyer's office, they can choose to call it what they will and associate as they want to, but that's separate from the contract. In effect, every "civil union" will be bound by a prenuptial agreement that must be consciously entered into by all parties that defines all of the criteria for what is currently deemed marriage. Assets coming into the marriage shouldn't be deemed automatic community property unless the parties choose this consciously. Child custody will always be split equally amongst the individuals unless otherwise specified in the contract or unless it can be clearly proven that harm is coming to the children from one or more of the parties; joint custody is implied even when they live together (since that's effectively the same thing, just that they're under the same roof). In addition, this will also function as a living and non-living will so that probate judges don't erode an inheritance for the state's benefit as opposed to the individual's benefit, and also to avoid conflicts with the families of the individuals involved. Also, just like a standard contract, individuals will not be entitled to things like lifetime alimony and must mitigate their "damages" by being obligated to find work and/or getting educated to find better work. The contract may be modified at any time with the consent of the parties. During a "divorce", the parties will be bound by the separation provisions of the agreement, thereby reducing the amount of time that lawyers and judges are involved, the amount of tax money spent on courts, and the amount of personal money spent on lawyers in protracted litigation. For those in current marriages, their marriages would be subject to the same standard civil contract rules with modifications from any pre-existing prenuptial agreements.

    Neither of the candidates in this presidential election nor any of the state or local candidates made any mention of the damage that the process of divorce has on families, and on individuals' wealth. Divorce is one of the biggest destroyers of wealth in society today and contributes to other societal problems such as childhood delinquency. Why not take on both the issue of civil rights and of divorce, and redefine fundamentally how society organizes itself? If people were forced to think carefully on what a marriage really is - a business transaction - then they might treat it as such. Wrap whatever other window dressing you like around it, but it all boils down to business at the end of the day.

    I'd say that if any corporations were truly progressive, they would push for this too. At the end of the day, this would be to their benefit when an employee "divorces" since there would be less time spent off of work. Too bad Google doesn't get this, and even more humorously undermines its own argument by laying off people. Mixing business and politics isn't smart business anyway, as being neutral on issues pisses off the least number of potential customers as I'm sure Google will lose a few of its customers. Unfortunately, everyone loses when we force these dichotomies down people's throats, and business money like Google's simply aggravates this.
  • by jopie_b ( 543754 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @04:02PM (#26486699)
    I for one find the concept that a state (or country) for that matter could change its constitution with a simple 50% majority vote deeply disturbing.
    Where I live (NL) --Yes, liberal bias on these issues because of nationality is noted -- a constitution change involves:
    - Find 2/3 majority vote in Congress;
    - than a 2/3 majority vote in Senate;
    - New elections (that means wait out the 4 year term);
    - new 2/3 majority vote in the newly elected Congress and ...
    - new 2/3 majority vote in the newly elected Senate.
    This prevents constitution amendments based on hype or 'in-vogueness' of an idea and it also allows for the legislation to mature.

    Of course the constitution deal does get clouded in package deals, as it will hardly be the only issue in an election. And yes it does make a constitution change slow as molasses, but it does look like a more even keeled process.

    BTW, does this mean a new 'reverse prop 8' amendment can be started up next week which will undo this change? A flip-flop constitution sounds like an interesting concept for /. (from a digital point of view ;-)
  • Just wondering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kotorgeek56 ( 1454579 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @04:13PM (#26486975)
    I am just wondering why this story was tagged as "Republican." I mean Prop 8 passed by about 600,000 votes or 4% of those voting and no one can say the Republicans normally can produce that kind of a majority in California. Clearly, more than just Republicans are against it.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.