New Report reveals enormous economic burden of marriage discrimination

Today, Freedom to Marry and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates released a report revealing that the remaining patchwork of marriage laws for same-sex couples across the United States is costing businesses in the private sector $1.3 billion every year. Over the next five years, the private sector is expected to spend $6.6 billion in order to accommodate laws that allow same-sex couples to marry in some states but prohibit them from marrying in others.

The report, titled The Cost of Inconsistency: Quantifying the Economic Burden to American Business from the Patchwork Quilt of Marriage Laws, examines the large financial burden caused by the disparity in marriage laws across the nation. These costs often involve establishing and maintaining benefits policies and systems.

Evan Wolfson, President and Founder of Freedom to Marry, described the need for a resolution that would end this burden on businesses:

This authoritative report shows that marriage discrimination not only harms America's families, but America's businesses, imposing an unwieldy, expensive, and unnecessary burden on companies, employees, and the economy. American companies are forced to navigate different marriage laws in different states as they try to do right by their employees and consumers. The country urgently needs national resolution in favor of the freedom to marry — whether from the appellate courts or the Supreme Court — to eliminate this drain on business resources and provide full and equal respect for employees and their families in all 50 states.

Selisse Berry, Founder and CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, explained the importance of non-discrimination policies in the workplace:

Today, 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies for LGBT employees. Many of these businesses also recognize that equal access to benefits is required to attract top talent. But same-sex partner benefits often come with additional tax burdens. We are grateful for companies that mitigate this cost to LGBT employees. Given the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees can still be fired in more than half of US states based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, the role of businesses as leaders of change is more important than ever.

The report was written by Marsh & McLennan Companies and its subsidiaries, Oliver Wyman and Mercer, and was commissioned by Freedom to Marry and Out & Equal. It surveyed 5,000 employers to analyze the economic impact of the varying marriage laws for same-sex couples across the 50 states on the private sector. In-depth interviews were conducted with a range of employers to understand their efforts to comply with changing legal requirements and establish competitive talent practices.