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Google to governments: Legalize gay love

In an effort to make gay relationships be seen legally as identical to heterosexual ones, Google announces "Legalize Love," a campaign that pressures governments to do the right thing.

Google's Valentine's video featured a gay couple.
Google Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Please note the correction at the end of this post.

When even corporations can see that a piece of social legislation makes sense, you'd think that the politicians who ultimately work for those corporations would listen. Especially in America.

And yet the path of gay marriage has not been smooth.

Yesterday, though, Google -- which has repeated expressed support for gay marriage, for example in this year's Valentine's video (embedded) -- decided to confront politicians publicly by launching a global campaign called "Legalize Love."

As Dot429 reports, Google announced its intention yesterday at a Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London.

Its first governmental targets are Singapore and Poland, two countries with slightly different approaches to life.

Having lived in both Singapore and Poland, I feel sure that Google's task in each country will not be easy but perhaps for different reasons.

In Poland, the Catholic church has considerable influence in politics. The fact that the church's perception and reality are somewhat in conflict belies the fact that it plays a deep emotional role in the country.

In Singapore, on the other hand, Google's approach may be more pragmatic, appealing to the highly intelligent, rational (and very well-paid) minds that run that country.

As Google's Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe reportedly told the Summit: "Singapore wants to be a global financial center and world leader and we can push them on the fact that being a global center and a world leader means you have to treat all people the same, irrespective of their sexual orientation."

Google wants this campaign to be active in every country in which it has an office. However, it is placing the greatest heat initially on those places that actually have anti-gay legislation.

What's tragic is that in some of those countries, such legislation is rumored to have been enacted by politicians who are themselves gay but are so fearful of being outed that they hide behind the creation of such laws.

Google's idea is to mobilize other companies in order to put collective pressure on governments in the countries in which they operate.

Indeed, Ernst and Young's Harry Gaskell was beautifully blunt at the Summit about the power corporations can bring: "If you are trying to change something -- governments can exert diplomatic power, NGOs can martial facts and arguments -- but corporations martial economic power. That is something even the most passive of countries will listen to."

Money is power, and power can change things.

Wouldn't it be interesting if several large corporations' CEOs whispered over cocktails with members of government and explained that they would move their offices out of the country unless the government legalized gay marriage?

What's odd about the resistance to gay marriage is that it comes from politicians who claim to believe in the institution itself. It's an institution that so many heterosexuals have rather besmirched over the years. Perhaps gay couples might be able to teach them how it's done.

Correction at 11:26 a.m. PT: Google insists this campaign, even though it is called "Legalize Love," isn't an attempt to get gay marriage legalized, as was originally reported. We've updated this post and changed the headline on this post to reflect the correction.

A Google spokesperson told me: "'Legalize Love' is a campaign to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office."

The company feels that this issue has to be addressed legally in countries that have specific anti-gay laws.

However, some might feel that these things always start by overcoming smaller, but still difficult, hurdles. Normalizing gay relationships in the workplace is one important step toward normalizing gay marriage in the community.

Love leads to marriage, after all. And Google has long expressed its open support for gay marriage.