Google recently announced their position against California's Proposition 8:
As an Internet company, Google is an active participant in policy debates surrounding information access, technology and energy. Because our company has a great diversity of people and opinions -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, all religions and no religion, straight and gay -- we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. So when Proposition 8 appeared on the California ballot, it was an unlikely question for Google to take an official company position on.
However, while there are many objections to this proposition -- further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text -- 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. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.
Apple has done the same:
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.
I will leave writing a post with a detailed explanation of my position on "gay marriage" for a later date, but in short I'm in favor of protecting marriage per it's historical, traditional, Judeo-Christian definition. I hold this view because my Christian faith unambiguously informs me of the proper definition of marriage, as well as for purely secular/pragmatic reasons.
But, what concerns me even more than the fact that Apple and Google took this position in favor of gay marriage is the fact they took a position at all.
Having giant corporations put huge sums of cash behind social-issue political causes gives me pause. This isn't an issue that affects how well Google can provide search or Apple can make iPhones. Google and Apple, in my opinion, have no business injecting themselves into this issue.
It would take 10,000 individuals giving $20 to pro-Position 8 organizations to offset what Google and Apple did. Do we really want tech companies crowding out the advocacy of thousands of individuals?
I'm about to find out exactly how entrenched I am in Apple and Google technology. Anyone have any suggestions for a search engine from a company that doesn't stick it's nose where it doesn't politically belong? Same for an alternative place to easily move this blog to.
And, Apple: I was planning on buying an iPhone in January with money from an expected bonus from my employer. That's no longer going to happen.
I think it's worth pointing out that unlike Google and Apple, McCain and Obama are both in favor of the traditional, opposite-sex, definition of marriage. Well, sort of for Obama, who's contradicted himself on the issue, so I'm not sure exactly what to think. He said at the Saddleback debate that marriage was just between a man and woman, and told gay rights groups he only favored civil unions, but now it seems he's coming out in favor Proposition 8? (Huh? Is this a huge flip-flop or just an extremely nuanced position he holds? Or, he's just been lying again?)
At least Rick Warren is holding the line. As apparently are these two bloggers who are also responding to Google's misplaced advocacy.
Finally, let me clear up some of the absolute wrongness from Google's announcement:
... there are many objections to this proposition -- further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text
This is absolute FUD. Proposition 8 would change things back to how Californians voted for them to be in 2000. There is zero "encroachment". Furthermore, it's not ambiguously written. It is wored identically to the proposition approved in California in 2000 by nearly 2/3 of California voters: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” How is that "ambiguous"?!
... it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8.
Proposition 8 is neither "chilling" nor "discriminatory." Even should Proposition 8 pass, California law would continue to be that “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits” as married individuals. The only thing that would change is the legal definition of "marriage."
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.
This is absolute bull. If Google "respected" beliefs on "both sides", they'd keep themselves out of the debate. You can't respect the pro-Proposition-8 viewpoint while simultaneously donating $100,000 to defeat the proposition.
And, again, should the proposition pass, domestic partners would retain "equality" under the law to married individuals.
We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.
The proposition does NOT eliminate anyone's fundamental rights. I don't think heterosexuals even have a "fundamental right" to have their marriage be recognized by the government. Governments happen to, but it's not because it's a "right." Furthermore, should you allow the argument that everyone has "rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love" - to be logically consistent, you'd need to allow pedophiles the right to marry kids they love and/or immediate family members to marry each other should they be "in love". I know that sounds over the top, but I challenge anyone who disagrees to show me how that's not the logical extension of that argument.
Google making such a FUD-filled, and, frankly, dishonest, statement about Proposition 8 really turns me off to the Google brand. So much for "don't be evil."