ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays have signed onto an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage, becoming one of only three sports teams to do so.
Filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, the brief has been joined by 379 large American companies that are urging the court to uphold same-sex couples' right to marry, regardless of which state they call home. The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments April 28 on gay marriage, which is now legal in 37 states, including Florida, where a federal judge struck down the state's ban last year.
The two other teams that have joined the brief are the San Francisco Giants and the New England Patriots.
In a conference call on Friday to announce that roughly 70 amicus briefs have been filed on the pro-gay marriage side, Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld said signing the brief was an easy decision. "Quite simply, it is the right thing to do," he said.
Keeping with the theme of the brief, which focuses on the ways private companies have been burdened by the existing patchwork of marriage laws, Auld said that before gay marriage became legal in Florida, "it was difficult for our business to treat each of our employees equally."
"The Rays were forced to take burdensome steps to provide every employee with identical health care benefits and adoption support, and we include an anti-discrimination policy in our employee handbook," he said.
Auld continued: "It is our belief that all employees should be treated as equals, both by our business and under the law. Support for this brief is wholly consistent with our corporate values."
Several other Florida businesses signed the brief as well, including Clearwater-based Tech Data Corporation, The Ultimate Software Group, Inc., Office Depot, Inc., and Baker & McKenzie LLP.