Dump Starbucks News, May 3, 2012


Dump Starbucks

Welcome to this week's edition of the News!

Kudos this week go to our brothers and sisters who adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Starbucks has announced that no longer will they use a cochineal dye, which is extracted from a South American beetle, in their food products. What did it take, you might ask, for Starbucks to change the ingredients in their food products? Not too much according to The Seattle Times—just a petition signed by 6,000 people.

Yep—6,000 people signing a petition were able to persuade Starbucks to do some "obvious soul-searching" about how they made six food products.

So why does Starbucks ignore over 34,000 customers who ask them to take a neutral position on the cultural battle over gay marriage?

The difference is that gay marriage is "core" to who Starbucks is as a corporation. The ingredients in their food and beverages are not, apparently. Does that make sense to you? Not here either. Let's keep up our efforts until they realize they cannot mess with marriage!

What can you do to continue to support the protest?

Last week's request was pretty simple: Like our Facebook page.

This week I am asking that you forward to your pastor, priest, or other religious leader a flyer that can be included in your church bulletin.

This brief, respectful, and factual bulletin insert (we also prepared a couple of sample power point slides if that is the way your announcements are made) will help you let everyone in your congregation know that Starbucks = Gay Marriage.

Please forward the flyer with a brief note requesting that they be included in the bulletin for an upcoming service. Please feel free to adapt the flyers as you and your pastor think appropriate for your congregation.

While much of the focus on why Starbucks is wrong to support same sex marriage has been on religious and moral concerns, there is also a strong business case to be made for staying neutral on marriage. The fact is that a corporation should not take a position on a controversial social issue that has nothing to do with the business in which the corporation is engaged. Doing so pits the personal beliefs of the employees against the corporate policy of the company. Don't take my word that this is a bad business practice—let's look at what other major corporations have done in regard to the marriage debate and why.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, during a speech to a North Carolina business networking group, was asked by Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten what his position was on the North Carolina Marriage amendment. "As a corporate CEO, I don't comment on social issues. But I'm going to comment on this personally," was the CEO's response. Charlotte Observer reporter Tim Funk followed up on this aspect in his story, "Later, when asked by the Observer why Duke Energy as a corporation wouldn't take a public stand on the amendment, Rogers said the utility has employees who come down on both sides of the issue. It wouldn't be appropriate for the company they work for to take a stand, he said."

There is a company that respects the beliefs of all their employees.

It is not just Duke Energy however. In 2011 Bank of America cut its contract with Frank Turek, a private contractor that provided leadership training to bank employees, because Mr. Turek supports marriage as the union of one man and one woman. More on that story can be found here.

Bank of America later reinstated Mr. Turek as a vendor in good standing—realizing that they had made a mistake in releasing Mr. Turek in their effort to pursue diversity. Later, when a Bank of America technology and operations executive made a video opposing the North Carolina marriage amendment, Bank of America quickly clarified that the executive was speaking as an individual and that the bank was not taking a position for or against the marriage amendment.

These companies, both among the 200 largest in the nation, are not partisans in the culture war. Both offer domestic partner benefits, an anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, and have company-supported LGBT resource groups. Yet they understand that involvement in the culture war over marriage is not appropriate because it pits employees against the company.

Still not convinced? Look to Minnesota where a marriage amendment will be on the ballot this November. Of thirteen Fortune 500 companies contacted only one, St. Jude Medical, said they will publically oppose the amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The next time someone tells you to keep your religious view on marriage at church and leave Starbucks alone, let them know that there are business reasons, adhered to by major corporations, for a company to stay neutral in the marriage debate.

Starbucks has already heard from 34,000 customers and counting that they do not approve of the marriage stance taken by the corporation. Let's keep up our efforts!

Jonathan Baker
Director—Corporate Fairness Project
National Organization for Marriage

The National Organization for Marriage Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization, gifts to which are deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes.