In response to objections over a public statement made earlier this year backing Washington’s same-sex marriage bill, the leadership of Starbucks Corporation assured its investors not to worry, for profits have never been better.
Starbucks President and CEO Howard Schultz fielded questions from shareholders over whether taking a stance on the controversial issue would dilute the company’s bottom line, particularly in nations where the company is expanding but homosexuality is widely considered immoral.
“I would say, candidly, since we made that decision, there has not been any dilution whatsoever in our business, and as you can see, shareholder value has increased significantly,” Schultz replied. “Performance in many ways should be one of the metrics to decide whether or not this decision in any way has been dilutive, and it hasn’t.”
But now, the National Organization for Marriage has determined to put a dent in that boast, launching the Dump Starbucks campaign, urging supporters of traditional marriage to sign a pledge to boycott the popular coffee seller.
In fact, it was Jonathan Baker, both a Starbucks shareholder and head of NOM’s Corporate Fairness Project, who initially posed the question at the investors meeting.
Schultz answered that the decision to back same-sex marriage was deemed at Starbucks’ highest levels to be in line with “the heritage and tradition of the company” – even if that decision is “inconsistent with one group’s view of the world.”
Dissatisfied with Schultz’s answer, Baker is now spearheading the boycott effort.
“Here’s our goal: If Howard Schultz and his insular Seattle liberals hear from enough of us, management will move to a more genuinely inclusive attitude toward its customers’ and partners’ diverse views on marriage,” Baker states on the NOM website. “People should be able to drink or serve a great cup of coffee without betraying their own core values on marriage.”
Already, over 36,000 people have signed the Dump Starbucks pledge, which states, “I am deeply offended by your corporate position to support same-sex marriage and your decision to wage a culture war against the moral views of half your U.S. customers and the vast majority of your international consumers. Starbucks is using its resources to invalidate traditional marriage in the U.S. and redefine the institution of marriage, despite the strongly held views of so many of its customers, including me. Therefore, I will no longer purchase anything from Starbucks until you change your corporate values to be more reflective of my own.”
“In our first week, we gained 25,000 pledge signers in the U.S. alone;” NOM President Brian Brown said in an announcement posted last month, “today we go international, expanding DumpStarbucks.com campaigns into Mandarin, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, and Bahasa (one of the chief languages of Indonesia). DumpStarbucks.com online ads will also start running in Egypt, Beijing, Hong Kong, the Yunnan region of China, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.”
“The support [for same-sex marriage] is not just the personal endorsement of a senior executive, but is the official corporate position of the company,” Baker told the Christian Post. “Obviously this position does not reflect the views of all customers and employees, and the NOM protest and DumpStarbucks.com [are] designed to enable these customers and employees to have a voice.”
The controversy began earlier this year, when Kalen Holmes, Starbucks’ executive vice president of partner resources, released a memo to the company’s U.S. partners backing legislative efforts in Washington state to legalize same-sex marriage.
“Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington state legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Holmes wrote. “It is core to who we are and what we value as a company. We are proud of our Pride Alliance Partner Network group, which is one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees in the U.S., helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities where we live and work.”
The memo also boasted that Starbucks has been at the forefront of the issue, offering domestic partner benefits, such as health and dental plans, for the last 20 years.
The video of Schultz’s answers to Baker and other concerned shareholders can be seen below: