Twenty-nine OPEN Finance participating firms sign amicus brief for the upcoming Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality
Twenty-nine firms participating in OPEN Finance have signed the business amicus curiae brief supporting marriage equality, in advance of oral arguments to be heard by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges in April.
OPEN Finance collaborated with Morgan Lewis, the law firm coordinating the business amicus brief, and with OUT Leadership to help a record number of participating firms confirm their support of marriage equality. The full list of the 29 firms, alongside other financial services companies, can be found in the brief, posted on the Morgan Lewis website. The amicus brief was endorsed by Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, and by the Human Rights Campaign.
The number of financial services firms signing the amicus brief is unprecedented, and amounts to more than twice the number of OPEN Finance participating firms that signed on to the 2013 amicus brief in support of United States v. Windsor. That case, also heard by the United States Supreme Court, concerned the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).
OPEN Finance’s amicus brief working group was spearheaded by three former OPEN Finance co-chairs, Daniel Maury, a Managing Director at UBS, Andy Sendall, a Director at Citibank, and Lanaya Irvin, a Director at Bank of America. The working group partnered with Todd Sears and his team at Out Leadership, who leveraged their industry contacts to help OPEN Finance mobilize financial services firms and influence key firms to sign.
“Since its founding, OPEN Finance has spent the past eight years building a strong network across the financial services industry with the aim of leveraging the collective power of all of our participating firms’ employee resource groups,” said Jennifer Macdonald, co-chair of OPEN Finance. “It is in instances like this that we can use the leadership of these embedded networks to secure an industry-wide effort that can drive large-scale change, and thereby send a strong message not just to each firm’s employees, but to individuals around the world.”
“We could not be more proud to be part of this historic moment, and to see financial services be at the forefront of corporate America in standing up for equality and inclusiveness,” added Matt Koehler, co-chair of OPEN Finance and Executive Director at UBS. “All of the members of the OPEN Finance amicus brief working group put in a tremendous amount of work over the past few weeks, and the result of that is more than twice the number of participating firms signing this amicus brief when compared to the brief for DOMA – that’s an incredible feat.”
A total of 379 companies signed on to the brief, which was delivered to the Supreme Court yesterday.
“The finance industry has taken an important leadership role on these issues,” added Susan Baker Manning of Morgan Lewis, who was responsible for the brief. “There was an amazing coordinated effort from a large group of companies in this sector. The combined voice of these leading businesses helps send a clear message to the Supreme Court that the existing confused legal landscape places significant burdens on employers and their employees – making it increasingly hard to conduct business.”
“The briefs submitted yesterday in support of marriage represent an unprecedented array of businesses, religious leaders, mayors, Republicans, first responders, and others who are saying clearly that the freedom to marry is an American value,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “As the Supreme Court justices consider the marriage cases before them, these briefs are integral to showcasing the support for same-sex couples and their families from every sector and every section of the country. We are especially proud of our partnership with OPEN Finance in gathering signatories from the financial sector. Wall Street executives, and all smart employers, know that marriage is good for business and productivity. The Supreme Court should affirm the freedom to marry for all Americans as soon as possible.”
“Our campaign leveraged OPEN Finance’s deep connections across financial services; we mobilized over 100 LGBT leaders throughout the industry,” added Daniel Maury. “Those leaders sent a powerful message to their firms’ senior management: we need you to take action. Ultimately, the result is increased loyalty to our employers, and a great sense of pride for what our leaders have done to support LGBT equality. It took courage and determination from them, and for that we are incredibly grateful.”
OPEN Finance’s working group held weekly calls, shared sample ‘road maps to success’ for each firm, and coordinated contact between Morgan Lewis and each firm to ensure that, where appropriate, information was shared as quickly as possible across the industry. Similar working groups were formed for situations ranging from the Windsor amicus brief in 2013, same-sex domestic partner benefits tax equalization in 2010/2011, and several business coalitions.
About OPEN Finance
OPEN Finance is a New York–based organization comprised of nearly 40 financial services firms including banking, insurance, consulting and media. A network of LBGT employee resource groups, OPEN Finance’s goal is to advance and accelerate LGBT workplace equality in financial services. We provide a forum to share best practices, and promote networking, professional development and community service opportunities, all aimed at making the industry a premier career choice for LGBT individuals. The OPEN in our name represents Out Professional Exchange Network.