Stop Supporting Starbucks

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.

Here’s why:

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.

Arland K. Nichols served as HLI’s director of education and evangelization and executive editor of the Truth and Charity Forum until February 2014. He is currently president of the John Paul II Foundation in Texas, where he resides with his family.    
Articles by Arland:

  • Denise J. Hunnell,MD

    Very good points. One aspect, that you did not mention, is that such a sacrifice says a lot to our children. Years ago, when General Mills was supporting Planned Parenthood we boycotted their cereals. My children were keenly aware that we did not get Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and other General Mills favorites because they supported abortion. Such a tangible sacrifice for the sake of our pro-life principles made a profound impression on my children.They knew that being pro-life was not just about words, but about action as well. So if you have children, make sure they know you are avoiding Starbucks and why you are doing so. Your individual boycott may have little lasting impact on the revenue flow for Starbucks, but it will have a tremendous impact on the development of the next pro-life, pro-family generation.

    • Arland Nichols

      Excellent point, Denise. Thanks!

    • Fiona Mackenzie

      Yes, I imagine that as they became adults, they probably began to wonder WTF was wrong with you and your friends. They may also have noticed the sheer silliness of not eating cereal from a zillion-dollar corporation to “get their attention.”

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  • Nour

    Besides supporting an act that will destroy natural human reproduction! They mix MSG in the coffee.

    • Rocco Rizzo


    • Fiona Mackenzie

      You have every right not to consume a Starbucks beverage. Where you step over the line is where you want to impose your wish on the rest of us. Do you understand that AT ALL?

    • Fiona Mackenzie

      Oh, and I am very concerned about limiting human reproduction. The planet is groaning under the burden it carries now, and the profligate destruction wrought by that mass of over-reproducing humanity. But let’s be vigilant in making it possible for people to reproduce in the biggest quantities possible.

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  • Doug Sirman

    I support all these goals. Nevertheless, I think marriage would be better served if we treated it with more respect as Christians than secularists do. ‘Course, that might “queer the deal,” so to speak, on the serial monogamy practiced by roughly 50% of Christianity, yes that includes Catholics. So, down with gay marriage and all, ok with that. But, if you were actually able to support marriage with legal actions restricting those things which have done far, FAR more damage to it than the gays could ever dream of, well, I just might be able to stop laughing at these hypocritical efforts quite so much.

    • Arland Nichols

      I am happy to know that you support these goals. I certainly agree that marriage has been greatly harmed by Christians who have not lived their marriages out faithfully. I also agree that many laws and cultural trends have gradually unraveled our appreciation of the beauty of marriage and the permanence, exclusivity, and openness to children that are inherent too marriage. Where I disagree with you is that I do not consider a boycott of Starbucks to be a “hypocritical effort”. I suspect that the vast majority of men and women who choose to “dump Starbucks” do so precisely because they are bucking the cultural tide within their own marriages. I find that in my travels the folks eager to defend marriage are the ones who are trying very hard to be excellent spouses and parents. They are far from being hypocritical.
      Rather, they love their marriages and spouses and they want to protect the institution they love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.k.lewis.7 Michael Kennally Lewis

    I agree with the point, but since most independent coffee shops tend to be even more liberal and vocal about their support for “equality,” any Catholic living on the east or west coast may have to settle for Dunkin’ Donuts (my favorite) or simply make coffee at home.

  • Jolanda

    So what about the Christians that are employed by Starbucks? Should they quit? How about churches with an edifice so large that there’s a Starbucks in the vestibule(which MOST do)should they illegally evict them now? What about buying a box of Starbucks tea off the shelf from Kroger? You see how ridiculous this is? As Christians we are commanded to be fair&equitable. So as Christians we can align with Gods Word on marriage between 1 man&1 woman yet MANY of us are in relationships now that are NOT that definition.Some of the very “so called leaders”in the church have been married&divorced multiple times; others are caught in adultery yet they submit themselves to counseling(supposedly) and in 90 days they’re right back at it; and I won’t even get started on those that have been caught in homosexual affairs, paid off their victims and still run Christian television stations of which David Barton has been a guest frequently. The church is being rendered ineffective because we have tried to serve as the moral police. However,when scandals plague the church(and there are so many) there is absolutely no righteous indignation, no outcry, no boycotts-NOTHING at all from us.

    Come on Saints, the world needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and here we are with our focus so narrow that we are failing to exemplify the love of The Father!!!! Absolutely we should speak HIS truth in love and not nonsense.

    If MY people which are called by MY NAME would humble themselves and pray, seek MY FACE, turn from their wicked ways, then our land will be healed!
    It starts with us! Peace&Blessings❤

  • Maigua

    As a matter of sacrifice for the sake of the marriage institution, lets avoid as much as we can their services and products and others with the same ideologies.

    • Fiona Mackenzie

      Yes, the cruelty of forcing those who aren’t just like you to live and have their relationships in secret, and be deprived of family, on the pretext of pleasing some invisible sky daddy, is lost on you. But any little restriction or move that annoys YOU is a federal case–like the color of Starbucks coffee cups.

      • Stephen_Phelan

        Right. Like those LGBTers who were just fined $130K by a *federal* judge for refusing to bake a cake for faithful Christians, even though other bakers were near by and available.

        Oh, wait, no… those were Christians who were fined $130K, because the same sex couple LITERALLY – not in Joe Biden sense of the word, but in its actual meaning – made a federal case out of their refusal to celebrate a same sex ceremony.

        The more I see of your comments the more impressed I am at the dry ironic humor. Excellent, and kudos.

        • Ja Narr

          Federal case? LOL, no dear that was settled in the state of Oregon, where the couple in question violated Oregon state public accommodations law

  • Cath4life

    As a prolife activist. It was a challenge to start boycotting, but after a while it became easier and easier. I boycott a lot of companies and let others know about their stances on prolife and traditional marriage. I urge you to look at the planned parenthood providers and supporters and start boycotting a few of those too. Starbucks is on both boycott lists, so I have no problem taking my business elsewhere. Join the boycott prolife movement at http://www.fightpp.org (I am just a member and don’t work for their company)

  • CherylandRandy Bland

    Thank you for your information. I am about to open a Christian Bookstore Coffee House & was searching coffee companies that were created to support Christian missions in foreign countries or local ministries. We will avoid Starbucks & do a little more research. -Randy & Cheryl of Healing Hand-up Ministries, http://www.healinghandup.org.


    Download ‘The Jaffe Memo’ which was the result of collaboration between Planned Parenthood and government and appeared in one of their birth control publications way back in 1969. In column 1 under social controls recommended to decrease population was a suggestion to promote homosexuality.

    I had wondered why homosexuals were coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden. The Jaffe Memo made it plain. I had lived for five decades before I was ever propositioned by females, despite the fact that I had lived in same sex dorms for nine years (from age six to twenty-one). In my co-ed high school we were free to roam in the evening and on weekends. There were a lot of heterosexual encounters in the woods and at the trout stream. I never witnessed flirtatious behavior, between members of the same sex . Our male friends told us when a male staff member was inappropriate in the shower room but there was never a rumor about male students behaving sexually with each other.

    • Fiona Mackenzie

      People are “coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden” in fora that are not just sexual and reproductive. It’s called free expression. When this country was settled, your bigoted, hate-ridden religious “ancestors” wanted a guarantee that they could continue to be obnoxious to others, ad infinitum, and they got it–but typical of the kind of people they are, they aren’t satisfied with their own freedoms unless they can take away others’.

      • Stephen_Phelan

        “You are hateful, so you need to shut up, because of free expression!” Again, the thoughtful person will see your posts and wonder if you’re really a right wing plant caricaturing the LGBT position. You’re welcome to give it another shot if you wish.

  • Rocco Rizzo

    Give me Starbucks, or give me death!
    You will have to pry my Starbucks cup from my cold, dead hand before you can get it from me!

  • it me

    it’s reassuring to know that i’ll never have to serve any of you.

    please do boycott

    • Maxx Nyckel

      Same here!

  • er

    I thought Christians were supposed to be loving and open-minded. If you are not supporting and loving of others, then you are filthy excuses for Christians. Hating people for who they are will not get you into any sort of heaven.

    • Sam

      YOU are not going to define what Christians are supposed to be about. BTW, I can just FEEL all the love just oozing from your words… hypocrite.

  • you people are trash

    please, by all means, come into any starbucks and express your views and see how many of us refuse to serve disgusting trash like you anyway.

  • Chuck

    I support you Arland, and I find Starbucks’ position to be in alignment with many who use the same “Dignity and Compassion, acceptance, open-mindedness, diversity” Name the word. However, I believe that the deterioration of Marriage of one man and one woman as intended by God and accepted by Science as the ONLY procreation vehicle for humans is being changed by those such as Starbucks who are illicit in taking away my rights and delving into attempting to deteriorate my rights and beliefs for their own gain. This is not “DIVERSITY” and “ACCEPTANCE” this is an Oxymoron. This is no different than changing my marriage to my wife as merely contractual and equal to theirs. Which it is not, Under the laws of Science and the Laws of God.

    • Fiona Mackenzie

      True. Bigots are losing ground. Your question?

  • Fiona Mackenzie

    Starbucks is an amazing leader in charitable and educational gifts to the community and the nation. Unless you want to replace the zillions of dollars they put into the economy and the well being of Americans each year, I suggest you shut up.

    • Stephen_Phelan

      Shut up, she explained. Very rigorous, very convincing.

      Except that your argument also would exonerate the Kochs, and I’m guessing you didn’t intend it to do so. Why don’t you try again?