Apple & Equal Marriage Rights

Here’s an unusual example of a high-profile company taking a high-profile position on a controversial social issue that is not clearly & directly related to their business interests. Apple says No on Prop 8.

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 is a ballot measure in California, seeking to amend the state constitution to deny same-sex couple s the right to marry. In joining the fight against Prop 8, Apple was joining that other tech powerhouse, Google. Taking this kind of strong stance on a social issue is relatively uncommon for companies. And some have been critical, not just of the particular position Apple is taking on Prop 8, but of the fact they’re taking a position on this controversial matter at all. Why would it be a corporation’s role even to have a view on this sort of thing? How can management be advancing long-term shareholder value by doing this? Well, it just may be that in some cases, some issues are so important, and the morally right answer so obvious, that management just can’t contain themselves. But there’s another (more cynical?) explanation that has to do with employee morale. As Google’s Press Release points out, “we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. …. However… it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality.”

Apparently Apple and Google are not the only companies that feel strongly about this. See this press release about other companies joining the Equality Business Advisory Council to Defeat Prop 8. I’m of the view that interpreting the moral motivations of companies — figuring out why they did certain morally-loaded things — is somewhere between difficult and a metaphysical impossibility. But I would love to find a source of insight into this particular case. Who really made these decisions? CEOs? PR departments? Boards? Anyone have any ideas?

Please note that any inflammatory partisan comments about Prop 8 will be deleted. Obviously. Cynical and/or moralistic and/or optimistic conjectures about corporate motives, however, are welcomed.

Update: comments are now closed.

6 comments so far

  1. JayV on

    Wait a sec. The company statement reads <>Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.<> I never thought of it as <>just<> a political issue. Why are Apple? It’s about civilrights indeed and treating peoplewith respect and honoring their commitments. That’s a slap in the face of their lbgt employes!

  2. Chris MacDonald on

    JayV:Please clarify… who’s slapping Apple’s lbgt employees in the face? Prop 8 clearly is. So are you saying Apple is merely defending its employees? Or is there something in the wording of Apple’s statement that you don’t like? Thanks,Chris.

  3. Joseph Onesta on

    Savvy organizations are beginning to realize that true engagement of the work force increasingly depends on the notion of “affiliation,” that when a company’s culture reflects the attitudes of it’s members, that those members are more involved, productive and loyal. While many of the values held by employees in organizations are not often expressed externally in such a public manner, many companies are beginning to embrace concepts that align with those values.

  4. JayV on

    oops, chris, i got it all ass backwards. teaches me to read it all before i make a comment. hooray for apple (& i’m a mac user).

  5. […] for example, Apple’s sizeable donation to the fight against Proposition 8, California’s anti-marriage-equality effort. Was that a charitable donation, or a piece of […]

  6. CEO: “Black Lives Matter” | on

    […] See also: Starbucks’ “Race Together” stunt is working—just not for Starbucks “Apple and Equal Marriage Rights” […]

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