I am not going to suggest that there is a binding moral obligation to boycott Starbucks. What I will do is share some information about how Starbucks has engaged in the battle over marriage. In doing so, I don’t have the space to argue for the dignity of all persons, make the case for “traditional marriage,” defend the Catholic Church’s teaching, or offer counsel and support for individuals (and their families) who are attracted to persons of the same sex. I’ve done much of this elsewhere.
I have never maligned persons with same-sex attraction nor the supporter of redefining marriage, and I certainly won’t do so here. I simply invite you to consider one thing: Don’t drink, buy, or serve Starbucks coffee.
Starbucks endorsed the redefinition of marriage in Washington State. In its press release, Starbucks Executive Vice President for Partner Resources Karen Holmes stated, “This important legislation is aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners. It is core to who we are and what we value as a company.” As “Sumofus.com” proudly declared, “when it passed, the bill’s lead sponsor said that support from business convinced moderate legislators to vote for it. Without support from companies like Starbucks, the gay marriage law might have failed.”
Howard Schulz, the CEO of Starbucks, has confirmed that support for redefinition of marriage is company policy, not solely his personal position. To this end, Starbucks joined an amicus brief seeking to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that enshrines into law the one and only definition of marriage. Starbucks, as a company, has chosen sides in this “culture war.”
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has observed that “Starbucks has made gay marriage key to its corporate brand, forcing customers to choose between their values and their cup of coffee.” Unfortunately, Starbucks has given more cause for concern.
Starbucks boasts of its “lengthy history of leading and supporting policies” that equate support of the LGBT lifestyle as promoting “equality and inclusion.” It touts its domestic partner benefits program, and has a “Pride Alliance Partner Network group” which helps “raise awareness” and is “one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender” employees in the USA.
Starbucks is routinely rated by gay and transgendered activist organizations and publications as one of the most supportive of “gay rights.” (I highly recommend this article that argues that the claim to be fighting for “equality” and “gay rights” begs the question, is inaccurate, and stymies discussion.)
Starbucks also outlays a portion of its profits each year to support “gay pride” events and organizations. Just a sampling of such recent support: It has made donations to the Pride Foundation, and is a National Corporate Partner for the Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest, wealthiest, and most influential organizations dedicated to advocacy and creating public support for the political and cultural aims of the “gay lobby.” Starbucks supported Seattle’s “Pride Parade” in 2011, was a “Bronze Partner” for the 12th annual Human Rights Campaign Pacific Northwest Dinner, and was a presenting sponsor for the 22nd annual Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival.
These film festivals offer an appalling array of “adult-content” films with such titles as “Lust Life,” “Bedfellows,” “Dirty Girls” and “Going Down in LA LA Land.” These films have been described by friendly film critics as “not safe for work,” “uncensored,” “immersed in a world of pornography and prostitution,” and as featuring “R-Rated bedroom scenes.” Perhaps it is all the more disconcerting that, “In addition to the adult-themed films, every year as part of its outreach program, the festival invites local youth to a specially selected free film screening and pizza party.” The concession stands at these festivals are manned by high school aged kids, who are members of local Gay-Straight Alliances.
In light of such actions by Starbucks, the National Organization for Marriage launched a nation-wide boycott saying that it would be satisfied if Starbucks would just remain neutral. When NOM announced its boycott, the “gay lobby” countered with a “Thank you” note campaign in support of Starbucks. Sadly, this campaign has gathered significantly more signatures (10 to 1) than NOM did for the boycott. Their followers were better organized, more passionate, and more responsive to the perceived threat than were those who support “traditional marriage.” Starbucks felt little or no financial fall-back as a result of its policies. As Howard Schultz declared, “I would say, candidly, since we’ve made that decision, there’s not been dilution whatsoever in our business.”
In other words, too many sat by and did nothing or too little for Starbucks to change.
As the fate of DOMA was being argued at the Supreme Court, a coalition of organizations that cherish marriage hosted the “March for Marriage.” By all accounts it was a successful event (we were in the majority by a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio). Marchers were a “majority-minority group” described by one writer as “without a doubt the most racially diverse crowd that I had ever seen associated with a right-of-center” cause. This is great news because it proves that preserving marriage is important to people of all ethnicities and religions. But, on the other hand it leads one to ask: where are the Anglos? Why have Anglos failed to show up in proportionate numbers?
Were many complacent or unwilling to be inconvenienced by taking a stand? If this is so, I cannot stress enough that we can succeed in protecting marriage only to the degree that we are willing to be inconvenienced. Perhaps we were unaware that a March was planned. If so, get plugged into Catholic or Christian news and commentary publications.
We are familiar with the famous quotation “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” We must act. We must be willing to embrace inconvenience for the sake of principle. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Marriage is fundamental to the health of society, families, and individuals. Marriages are broken today. But this doesn’t mean we need to redefine marriage. We need to recover and renew marriage. We must stand up for it. We need the passion and efforts of dedicated individuals to defend it. It will require sacrifice, suffering, and struggle. It will be politically incorrect and you may even be called a bigot or hateful.
I used to love a decaf white mocha. During the days leading up to Christmas, the peppermint mocha was quite a treat. Business meetings and catching up with old friends have to happen elsewhere.
I couldn’t keep going to Starbucks knowing what I know. I don’t think it’s an absolute moral obligation to stop drinking Starbucks. It’s primarily a common sense intuition and a sacrifice I could easily make. I realize Starbucks isn’t the only corporation with these stances, but I had to ask myself, what’s the big deal about sacrificing a cup of coffee every once in a while or going to a different coffee shop? This decision has certainly been a conversation starter and created a “teachable moment” or two.
So, I simply invite you to seriously consider joining me: Let’s stop supporting Starbucks.