Dear Friend of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty:
On Wednesday morning, I was at the Seattle Center Opera House, the appropriate setting for the theatrical annual board meeting of the Church of Starbucks; CEO Howard Schultz, presiding bishop.
At least, that’s what it felt like — what with the heart-stirring videos, the soulful songs of Grammy award-winner Esperanza Spalding, and a real Baptist preacher (Harlem’s famous Rev. Calvin Butts)–not to mention the free coffee and doughnuts.
Howard Schultz touted his company as capitalism with a conscience, its grandiose mission: “To nourish the human spirit, one cup, one customer, one neighborhood at a time.” But Jonathan Baker, head of the National Organization for Marriage’s Corporate Fairness Project was there to ask if the board really approved the statement that gay marriage is “core to the Starbucks brand”?
Yes, Schultz replied. Yes, the decision to equate a worldwide consumer company with gay marriage was made at the highest levels.
Most of the room there in Seattle applauded, but what happens in Seattle doesn’t stay in Seattle.
Another shareholder asked how it could possibly be in the shareholders’ interest to wade into a hot-button political and cultural issue? A few brave souls in the audience applauded.
I was going to ask a question, too, but Schultz cut off questions just before I spoke, leaving me the sole person standing before a microphone with a question in my heart to ask:
Millions of good, honorable, decent and loving people believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason — these unions make new life and connect children to a mom and a dad. Of all the sustainable ecosystems Starbucks might want to support, surely this one is worthy of a company that bills itself as a company with a conscience?
Could Starbucks at least refrain from insulting half its customers—and the vast majority worldwide?
Clearly in the rarified circles Howard Schultz travels in, he doesn’t meet many of the decent, honorable people who disagree with same-sex marriage—but love Starbucks coffee! Why would a corporation gratuitously exclude the sacred values of so many of its customers?
And not just its customers, but its employees, the people Howard Schultz like to call “partners” core to the business.
Here’s an email from one of the 6,000 people who already signed the DumpStarbucks.com petition, and called their local Starbucks to complain. (One of the neat features of the DumpStarbucks.comwebsite is that it will locate the phone number of the Starbucks nearest to you).
“Dear Brian, we called the 1-800 and all of our locals and told them we are dumping SB and Seattle Bests.
The last local one I called I did talk with a manager that agrees with us. He would like to get a better job in a better company. He let me pray with him over the phone and he is going to call me when God answers our prayer.”
I don’t generally support boycotts, especially not the kind gay marriage advocates have launched that target whole business enterprises if any one major partner personally donates to a measure like California’s Proposition 8. It’s wrong because the basic norms of business are that people of differing moral views, even on deeply felt moral issues like gay marriage and abortion, need to work together to grow a company to serve their customers and shareholders.
But Starbucks has voluntarily decided — as a corporation – to associate its brand with a major political issue, the CEO just confirmed. I was in the room. I heard him.
Make sure Howard Schultz hears from you.
Go to DumpStarbucks.com.
Speak out, and stop being invisible to powerful men like Schultz.
The business of America may or may not be business, but the business of corporations is to make an honest profit by serving all their customers well, both those who favor and those who oppose gay marriage.
P.S. Would you please pass this on to a friend today? Thousands of you have already signed up for the fight, but with your help our army will grow!