Saturday, 27 September 2008

Google joins fight against "Proposition 8" which eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry in California

I can't remember another occasion when Google formally voices its position on political or social matters. (may be I am wrong, may be they did so in past but I cannot remember, well, except for the launch of a new, self-censored search engine in China; in any case, it is something very rare, indeed). My respects to Google and its co-founder Sergey Brin for their stance.

So called Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot in California by conservative and religious fundamentalists after the California Supreme Court invalidated the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage in May. In previous days, Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg and other California A-listers made financial donations to fight proposed gay marriage ban.

Below is Google's statement in full posted by its co-founder Sergey Brin on The Official Google Blog.

Our position on California's No on 8 campaign
9/26/2008 03:23:00 pm

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.

Posted by Sergey Brin, Co-founder & President, Technology

*/emphasis mine/


hr_g said...

Immigration was the only other issue I remember Google discussing publicly.

Jamnastic said...

This is sad. It's the modern version of "church and state", now its multinational companies and politics mixing where they shouldn't.
"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." (Google blog)
This argument with exactly the same words could be used to support marriage between an adult and a minor, and polygamy, and even forced marriages. Something is very wrong here.
I am getting quite frustrated with the amount of people thinking that the issue is about equality. It's not. Equality has already been achieved. All adults have the right to marry an adult of the opposite biological sex, regardless of sexual orientation. There is no discrimination. What most people in the gay/lesbian/transgendaral/etc rights camp want is to redefine marriage, and to give, not just themselves, but everyone extra rights, ie, the right to marry an adult of the same biological sex. They want extra rights for everyone, not a right that everyone but them already has.
So it's not about equality at all. It's about the definition of marriage, something I don't think Google as a multinational company should have an official policy on.

artmika said...

You have point re involvement of big multinational companies, fine. But your argument to support your point is flawed to say the least. I am not even going into responding to the comparisons of same-sex marriage to the marriage with minor or forced marriage.

You are talking about equality (“Equality has already been achieved”) and “definition” of marriage. However, your “definition” of marriage excludes a proportion of society. And you do not see here inequality? It is not about extra right, it’s about equal rights, it’s about gaining rights equal to those in majority. To suggest that people of any sexual orientation have the right to marry someone of “biologically opposite sex” is ridiculous. If you are straight, would you like to marry someone of your sex? No, rightfully you would prefer one of opposite sex. The same goes with gay people. Why would they want to marry someone of “biologically opposite sex”? They are forced to do so in many countries, including US, because they have no right to marry their loved ones, and enjoy the same rights and responsibilities which is enjoyed by the heterosexual majority. And who says that the “definition” of marriage which you provided is the right one? Definitions which are discriminatory need to be re-defined. Have a look at definition of marriage, say, in Spain.

artmika said...

This should be pretty embarrasing for Google.

Google caught up in row over gay marriage vote

Google has become embroiled in a row about gay marriage, after opponents of same-sex unions in California used the search engine's advertising network to post messages on popular websites against the owner's wishes.

A number of American websites, including the widely read TechCrunch and Create Digital Music blogs, featured adverts backing Proposition 8, which would change California’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The adverts appeared on the sites a day before the crucial vote - which Californians will take at the same time as the presidential ballot - and have caused uproar among site owners and readers alike. [...]

Peter Kirn, from Create Digital Music, told Times Online: “Not only was this ad was something I disagree with – it could have said 'Vote For McCain' even though I’m an Obama supporter – but it is also an ad that could be seen as offensive to some of my readers."

He added: “This an extraordinary breach of trust we’ve put into Google ads.”

Mr Kirn has tried to use Google’s own software to remove the adverts from his site and has contacted the company about the issue. When the adverts remained on the site for several hours despite Mr Kirn’s best efforts to remove them, he said he was forced to remove all Google adverts from his site.

Popular technology websites, followed closely in Silicon Valley and the rest of California, seem to have been the main targets for the adverts.

“Denying a fundamental right to a person - such as marriage - is hateful and backwards,” wrote Michael Arrington on TechCrunch. “Google doesn’t have any obligation to run ads like these, and I believe they would be correct in banning.”

A Google spokesperson said: “Google allows ads that advocate for particular political position, regardless of the views that they represent. We’re currently allowing ads advocating both for and against Proposition 8.” Google insisted that there were controls in place to avoid adverts appearing that may offend the website owner.

The row may embarrass Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, who appeared on a “NoOnProp8” advert that appeared in a major Californian newspaper just days ago.

More than $65 million has poured in to both sides of the argument from across the United States and the world, making the initiative the most expensive election question this year, apart from the race for the White House. Much of the money for the yes campaign has come from Christian organisations, while Hollywood studios have contributed to the no camp.