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Fashion, footwear and retail giant Nordstrom, with annual retail sales reportedly exceeding $10 billion, has joined the ranks of businesses and corporations publicly announcing their advocacy for same-sex marriage.
The company confirmed to WND that it sent out yesterday an internal email to its approximately 56,000 employees announcing its decision.
“We gave this thoughtful consideration and felt the time was right to come out in support of this civil rights issue,” explained the email, signed by company Presidents Blake, Pete and Erik Nordstrom. “It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as our other employees. We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees.”
The Seattle-based company’s announcement comes at a pivotal time, as Washington voters will decide on Nov. 6 the fate of Referendum 74, a ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage. Nordstrom also joins other West Coast companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Nike and Starbucks in support of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Voters in Maine and Maryland will similarly be voting on the issue next month, while Minnesota – where Nordstrom also has a significant presence – is looking at a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Nordstrom’s Bloomington store is one of the largest in Minnesota’s renowned Mall of America
“Nordstrom joins many national brands in supporting marriage for all of their employees and customers,” celebrated Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD. “It’s not only a smart business decision to stand with gay and lesbian couples, but it is a reflection of the majority of Americans who today support marriage equality.”
Indeed, many national polls, beginning in 2010, have shown support for same-sex marriage ascending to the majority opinion, though state referendums to legalize the unions have never succeeded in more than 30 previous attempts.
As WND has reported, hundreds of corporations have been instilling policies beneficial toward homosexuality, and many have joined in advocating same-sex marriage, including fellow retailers Target and JC Penney.
In Minnesota, WND reported, General Mills CEO Ken Powell threw the support of the $15 billion food giant behind “gay” activists urging Minnesotans to deny a constitutional amendment in the state defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
But as WND has also reported, a long list of companies have earned the ire of the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign for not being “gay”-friendly.
From automotive companies like Pep Boys, Goodyear and Harley-Davidson to food and restaurant companies like Hormel, Hostess and Outback Steakhouse, the HRC have targeted the list for economic pressure, suggesting to consumers, “If possible, make the choice to support a more fair-minded company.”
Recently, however, the nation saw an example of how pressuring companies to support same-sex marriage can backfire.
After mayors in some of the nation’s largest cities suggested they would blacklist Chick-fil-A restaurants over the company owner’s private donations in support of traditional marriage, the chicken chain saw an overflowing surge of public support, as hundreds of thousands of people stood in line to patronize the company’s franchises, setting all-time records for single-day business.
The full text of the email Nordstrom sent to employees was publicized by GLAAD and can be seen below:
From: Nordstrom, Blake
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:03 AM
To: Leadership 2012
Subject: Freedom to Marry
October 11, 2012
To all employees:
We have long had a philosophical approach to our business to be inclusive about the way we serve customers as well as how we work to create a workplace where every employee is welcomed and respected. It’s simply how we operate.
With respect to our gay and lesbian employees, Nordstrom was an early adopter of adding sexual orientation to our anti-discrimination policy, which means we guarantee the same legal rights and protections in our workplace to gay and lesbian employees just as we do for other employees regardless of sex, race, color, creed, national origin, religion, age, marital status, pregnancy, physical, mental or sensory disability, and gender identity. This goes beyond the Federal government’s protection in Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which still excludes sexual orientation. In 1998, we began offering life partner benefits to employees.
We feel the next step in this journey is to now support freedom to marry, also called marriage equality. There is a lot of awareness of this issue across the country and we’ve heard from many employees and customers. We gave this thoughtful consideration and felt the time was right to come out in support of this civil rights issue. It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as our other employees. We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees. Again – this decision is consistent with our long-time philosophy of inclusivity and equality for our customers and employees.
We recognize there are differing opinions about freedom to marry. We hope we’ve been clear about why we made this decision. To all of our employees – if you choose to talk about this with each other, please do so respectfully. We want you to be informed about our position so you can also respectfully answer any customer questions that come your way.
Blake, Pete, Erik
Blake Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom, Inc
Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising, Nordstrom
Erik Nordstrom, President of Stores, Nordstrom