After the Supreme Court ruled the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages, corporations from Apple to Starbucks to Nike applauded. For years, these companies have offered benefits to gay employees as a way to attract talent. The high court’s ruling may also give an advantage to employers in states that have full marriage equality.
One company caught in the middle of this is Goldman Sachs. The global megabank has about 8,000 staff in lower Manhattan — where gay marriage is recognized — and 4,500 across the water in Jersey City, where it’s not.
In a green, spotlessly clean catamaran, it takes about six minutes to cross from one state to the other. Goldman employees who flash their badges rideacross the Hudson for free.
Edith Hunt, Goldman Sachs’ chief diversity officer, says, “You will often see people who have meetings on one side or the other.”
Hunt says the company is still figuring out the practical implications of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision. But right now it appears that married gay people living in New Jersey could miss out on tax benefits they’d get in New York. Goldman wants to keep all of its people happy, so it could transfer some employees to states that recognize gay marriage.
Hunt explains, “When we have specific situations that employees face in their personal lives — of any nature — we work very hard to try to make the kinds of accommodations that will enable them to be successful.”
New York and New Jersey have been competing for jobs for decades. Kathy Wylde is with the Partnership for New York City. She says federal recognition for gay marriage gives New York an unexpected advantage.
“It certainly puts more pressure on New Jersey,” Wylde says. “But we’ll do everything we can in New York City to take advantage of the fact that we can offer a more attractive deal. New Jersey has certainly pirated enough of our businesses over the years.”
A lot of things are still unclear, from social security benefits to family leave policies. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian advocacy group, says since DOMA was overturned, it’s had many calls from corporate human resources departments. Everyone seems to be looking for answers.
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