Nearly 300 firms file brief opposing Defense of Marriage Act

Nearly 300 companies and business groups across the country, including at least 30 from Massachusetts, told the US Supreme Court on Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act requires them to discriminate against some employees.

A friend of the court brief, filed Wednesday in a case to be heard by the justices next month, was joined by many large employers across the state, including EMC Corp. and State Street Corp., Akamai Technologies Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.

It was the the most sweeping brief of its kind yet at the national level, as a major swath of corporate America argued that treating married employees differently based on whether they are gay or straight is a costly burden and unfair to workers. Signing on were 278 entities including high-tech giants Google Inc. and Apple Inc., Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the Walt Disney Co.


“A whole lot of American business is saying DOMA is bad for business,’’ said Sabin Willett, a partner with the Boston law firm Bingham McCutchen, which wrote the brief.

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Bain & Co., the Boston consulting firm where Mitt Romney worked before launching Bain Capital, also was on the list. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who was the Republican nominee for president last year, opposed same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Windsor case on March 27. It involves a New York woman, Edith Windsor, whose spouse died in 2009, triggering $363,000 in estate taxes because she was married to a woman, and her marriage was not recognized under federal law.

A lower court ruled in Windsor’s case that DOMA was unconstitutional in prohibiting the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples.

Beth Healy can be reached at