Sunday, March 25, 2012

Starbucks and the National Organization for Marriage...

Wait, you mean I didn't change the World in a
single click?!?
Oh man, I’m writing about Starbucks again. For some reason, they just keep popping up on my radar.

This time, it’s the movement to send Starbucks a thank you card for their support of same sex marriage. I started seeing this link popping up on Facebook, shortly after the Kuny links started yes, Facebook has become our generation’s lazy way of supporting political movements.

This particular movement gave me some doubts. It seemed like a really great way to get a lot of publicity so I figured I would do a bit of research on the topic. Also, just because it’s on Facebook, doesn’t mean it’s true or accurate. I will not believe everything I see on Facebook!!

So here’s the deal; Starbucks added its name to a list of companies that supported a marriage equality bill in the state of Washington. Ultimately though, it was the politicians of Washington State that passed the bill and the governor signed it into law. Thus, without the inevitable backlash of Christian and right wing fundamentalists, the law will take effect June 7th 2012. Currently, same sex relationships have an ‘everything but’ status in the state of Washington; this law simply takes this to the next step, allowing for same sex marriage with all the same rights as heterosexual marriage.

Ultimately, what does it means that Starbucks supported this bill? It’s the same as any group of people supporting a bill. They are not the ones that officially vote on the bill to pass, but senators and other politicians supposedly look to public support to make their decisions.

Really, the issue here is that the National Organization for Marriage(NOM) has decided to target Starbuck’s support of the bill and issue a boycott against the company. The irony is that there are plenty of other major corporations that signed their names in support of the bill, yet Starbucks is the company being targeted. NOM also threatened any republican legislators who voted for the bill by stating that they were willing to spend $250,000 on primary challenges against them. I am assuming that means that come the next election, NOM will throw money into campaigns against those legislators.

How dare Starbucks use their
influence as a corporation to
support same sex marriage!
Only we, as a non-profit
organization, get that right!

So NOM, who is complaining that a corporation can throw their support behind a bill, will use their political influence and money to thwart the re-election of republican legislators who signed this bill. Bill Brown, the president of NOM, was quoted as saying “We will not tolerate an international company attempting to force its misguided values on citizens.” How is a political organization forcing its values on political representatives any different?

I think it’s important to note that NOM is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. This is different than a 501(c)(3) organization in that they can lobby and participate in political legislature. The reason they can do this is because they are an organization that “promotes social welfare”. This also means that they “cannot primarily benefit a private group of citizens”. The question becomes whether or not a group whose mission is “to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it” is supporting a private group or not.

When boycotting Google, does that means you have to stop using google as a verb? 
The whole Starbucks boycott is really just one group’s way of fighting for a definition of marriage that only includes one man and one woman. Starbucks became the boycott target because a boycott works well only with a concentrated effort. One company that supported the bill was selected and it happened to be Starbucks. It’s a lot easier to boycott over-priced coffee than it is to boycott Home Depot, Levi's,, Microsoft or even Google.

Ultimately, I did sign the thank you card for Starbucks. I personally support same sex marriage. Even if I didn’t, I would sign the thank you card as a form of anti-support for NOMs scare tactics.

The decision to sign it yourself though....well, that’s up to you.