Monday, January 31, 2005


Trouble for Wal-Mart?

New Ethics Policy May Be Unenforceable in Ohio, Other States...

Wal-Mart has reportedly adopted a stringent new ethics policy to try to curb unethical behavior among its employees. So big is the retail Giant, that suppliers will apparently do anything to curry its favor.

Wal-Mart's expanded policy includes same-sex partners and close non-marital relations. Wal-Mart's ethics policy also "requires honest and accurate" accounting, prohibits gifts from suppliers and asks associates to avoid social relationships and other conflicts of interest with vendors.

Only one problem. In the rush to contain the gay-marriage boogey-man, many states, most notably Ohio, have adopted state constitutional bans on gay marriage that go as far as to cover any legal incidents that are conferred to married couples. What this does is makes same-sex couples in the state 'legal strangers' who have no rights vis-a-vis there matter how long it has been in existance.

We've already seen creative defense attorney's get domestic battery charges dismissed because a live in couple wasn't married. It seems to me that this would extend to Wal-Mart's ethical policy as well. Covering same-sex couples, who aren't recognized by Ohio law, would create a 'special right' akin to marriage, thus becoming unconsitutional under state law.

Of course this probaly wasn't the goal of Ohio's ban, but it could very well be the effect. After ten years of working in politics the only certainty (other than death and taxes) is the law of unintended consequenses.

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