Google Announces Worldwide Campaign To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Story here.

I applaud their taking a stand, but the cynic in me just says Google is trying to win back some goodwill after making some questionable choices the past few years.

Do you think Google’s new initiative will make a difference in the long run? What sort of rpessure will they be able to bring to bear against anti-SSM governments worldwide?

I’m of the same mind here as with companies that take a stand against SSM: I really wish corporations would just stay away from political and social issues that have nothing to do with their business.

Google’s big enough now that they’ll probably have a notable influence, and that makes me uncomfortable. They could just as easily have been against SSM.

I think it’s admirable that they have learned from their mistakes. I don’t think they ever truly strayed from their “don’t be evil” motto. It’s just that there are issues that are difficult to navigate (such as free speech in China) and it’s not always obvious what is the right thing to do, and also what it the most effective thing to do.

I’m gay and all for SSM, but I’m really tempted to agree with you, despite this being “a really neat thing”. Definitely, they should make it company policy to help out internally LGBT employees in various ways wherever they hold offices, but I’m not sure it makes sense for them to proselytize beyond the inclusive notions such as changing the google logo. I wouldn’t be against them sponsoring other people taking similar initiatives, though.

“This is weird. All my searches link me to the page for ‘moron’.”

Google won’t bring any pressure on anyone if it threatens their bottom line. My paranoid alter-ego makes me think they will use this as a justification to collect and market data about everyone’s sexual habits, which they are probably doing already, which means they expect to be caught at it soon and are preparing a defense in advance.

I love Google and always have but they are still probably like only my 3rd or 4th favorite nation in the world. Welcome to the future where some of the most powerful entities in the world just operate operate in virtual space. I just want to know when they are going to allow us to start voting.

My thoughts exactly. I wish they stick to their knitting, regardless of which side of the debate they come down on.

And part of what I mean bout sticking to their knitting is figuring out how to be profitable while respecting people’s privacy. The Googles and Facebooks of the world are frightening in this respect.

Does it have nothing to do with their business, though? Google has locations in lots of places without same-sex marriage, so any married gay person who wants to take a job with Google at one of those locations would have to pick between being married and working for Google. Is it wrong for Google to not want the government to scare off talent by threatening to shred peoples’ marriage licenses?

Why? As a person, I sometimes have an interest in political and social issues that have nothing to do with my income. Why should not a group of people have the same privilege, supposing the decisions they take as a group are made in accord with whatever their internal governing process is?

My posts here are more IMHO than GD, but what the hell.

Because corporations wield power far out of proportion to any one citizen or even a simple assembly of citizens. Simple advocacy is one thing, but at least in the US, money is treated as speech. Corporations can therefore bring their economic leverage to bear on the political landscape and warp it more than an equivalent number of voters could. It’s not always “a group of people,” either, or at least not all the employees of the corporation, but simply the guy or guys at the top making the decision.

Ideally, and this is the line that frequently gets trotted out, if you don’t like a company’s views you can opt not to buy their products/use their services/work for them. But when you’re talking about corporations the size of Google or Wal-Mart or other megacorps, that tends to be a good deal more complicated and difficult than it should be.

I don’t like it when Christian fundamentalists use their megacorporations to try to shape the world to their view, and I’m not any happier about it when “my side” does it. The best thing you can say about Google and other large companies weighing in on the pro-SSM side is that the anti-SSM side finally has some competition. I wouldn’t want Godzilla or Ghidorah alone running rampant, but if we must have them stomping all over town, at least they’re fighting each other.


I totally understand the worry, but I’m not sure I agree.

Companies already spend huge amounts of money lobbying for economic benefits, and those economic benefits can easily cause harm to others. Corporations are often given a sort of “free pass” on this because they are not perceived as moral agents (not by everybody, but by many people). They’re not always considered immoral, just amoral; anything they do within the law to further their business goals is considered sort of ok, or at least not personally objectionable.

This lack of moral agency is (in my opinion), the cause of a lot of modern alienation and distrust. For example, in the many threads we’ve had about the mortgage crisis and the ethics of walking away from a mortgage when you are capable of paying it, I see the central disconnect as being one of moral agency. Many people don’t feel the same way about failing to a debt to a large corporation as they do about failing to pay one to an individual, and the reason is that the person is a moral agent and the company isn’t. Another example: people gleefully download movies made by large film studios, but rally around Matthew Inman when a website steals his comics.

I’d actually prefer that we start thinking of and treating corporate entities as moral agents. It’s very unlikely that we’re going to put the corporate genie back in the bottle; we’re going to live with a future of powerful corporate entities. I’d rather live in a world where corporations have moral and ethical obligations above and beyond the legally required than one where corporations are strictly profit-driven and we have essentially let the most powerful entities completely abdicate morality. The former is one where we have powerful conglomerates that can accomplish big things, but they are tempered and directed by our humanity. The latter is a oligarchic dystopia.

There are plenty of things Google’s done that I’m not happy about. But this isn’t one of them. I’m going to celebrate their principled stand and hope that this trend continues.

I can’t get behind the corporations should remain neutral opinion here. Companies have legitimate interests in taking sides. If you look at the Google adds on this page you can see why they might have that interest. If they predicted future advertising dollars would be on the side of anti-marriage they’d have probably gone the other route true enough. I imagine as public opinion is changing they’d rather get ahead of it and be able to reap the later profits as one of the first companies with the power and the will to change the world.

I’m probably the only one who read the title as “Google Announces Worldwide Competition To Legalize SSM”. Now, that would be something!

Call me a cynic, but this just seems like a ploy to engender some goodwill after their abetting censorship and citizen-tracking in China over the last few years. They have blood on their hands, in that some Chinese citizens disappear for good after government snoops track them down, for the crime of criticizing the government.

What on earth could Google actually do to promote same-sex marriage, anyway? I’m sure that some people want to marry their computers and possibly Google is developing an app for that, but that’s not the same thing.

You have to admit, its quite a change when advocating fro SMM is considered a goodwill gesture and good for business.

BTW, the campaign is not focused on Legalizing SSM, it is focused primarily on countries that have anti-gay laws on the books.

I would guess a list of countries that discriminate against gays is significantly longer the the list of countries that don’t.

You’d be right. Only Western nations have even thought about legalizing same sex marriage.

I really doubt this. You have to tell a pretty circuitous story to link the evolution of gay rights in Poland to Google’s bottom line. This is Google’s management standing up for what they believe in in a public way, because they think it’s the right thing to do.

Carnegie built libraries. Gates is trying to cure malaria. Can’t Brin and Page work for civil rights without us assuming baser motives?

I assume there will be large corporations that use their influence to oppose SSM. But that makes me all the more glad that Google is trying to support it. Google could decide to stay out of it, but it’s not like that would force companies who oppose LGBT rights to do the same.