Update: In an effort to heighten awareness for all companies and nonprofits contributing to the fight for marriage equality, Equally Wed has decided to rename August 7 as National Marriage Equality Day. This change received direct encouragement from Starbucks Corporate Headquarters who wanted other equality-minded companies and organizations to share in the
appreciation. Find a list of businesses and organizations to support here.
Wednesday wasn't easy as I watched tons of Facebook comments coming through my newsfeed from friends, colleagues, former cohorts and acquaintances spew hatred for my family. My lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. We love our family fiercely, and it hurts to see so many verbally attack us based on lies spread by Mike Huckabee and his constituents.
We've long known that Chick-fil-A is a Christian-based company. That's joyous and wonderful. And who doesn't support free speech? I certainly do. But the issue, the one Mr. Huckabee doesn't want his followers to think about, is the simple fact that Chick-fil-A continues to give a generous amount of its profits (current tab is at $5 million) to hate organizations such as Family Research Council and Exodus International that work directly against marriage equality. These organizations are run by people who deliberately try to make sure that my wife and I remain second-class citizens in the United States of America.
But the proposal of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day turned into something awful and misunderstood as thousands of people drove to their local fried chicken restaurant franchise and declared to local TV stations recording them that they were there to support free speech and being a strong Christian. But insiders report that off-camera consumers were excited to be there to take a stand against same-sex marriage.
But this isn't about free speech, as Mr. Huckabee continued to press upon his faithful listeners. And it's not about Christianity or personal beliefs either. It's a civil rights issue. It's a human issue.
So I wrote a little letter like Mr. Huckabee did, but instead of proposing the support of a restaurant that works toward equality only for the ones their president deems worthy based on his interpretation of the Bible, I think we should make a unified stand at Starbucks, a brick-and-mortar company available to people with strong moral values across the nation.
Have a look at my letter below, and be sure to RSVP on Facebook and attend National Starbucks Appreciation Day at your local Starbucks on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.
I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the LGBTQ community because the members are born different than their heterosexual neighbors, friends, family, coworkers, church and temple members.
Until our marriages are legally recognized on a federal level, we are denied 1,138 benefits, rights and protections.
Currently, only six states and the District of Columbia legally recognize same-sex marriage, with Maryland and Washington hopefully realizing this reality in November, when voters will get to vote on our civil rights.
Washington received resounding support from Starbucks earlier this year, when Kalen Holmes, Starbucks' Executive Vice President, announced the Seattle-based coffee company's support of Gov. Chris Gregoire's legislation for marriage equality:
"Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Starbucks strives to create a company culture that puts our partners first, and our company has a lengthy history of leading and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion.
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."
Starbucks not only treats customers and employees with respect and dignity, but for the last 20 years, it also has offered domestic partner benefits in the U.S. to part-time and full-time employees.
Let's affirm a business that operates on moral principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for human dignity and upstanding values, the same that we advocate by simply showing up, drinking and eating at Starbucks on Tuesday, August 7.
Too often, those opposed to equality for all make statements with hate, fear and massive donations to organizations working directly against marriage equality, all masked as support of free speech and freedom of religion.
This grassroots effort is quite simply full of love and appreciation for a company that stands up for us, for what is right, for what is just.
This event is not being launched by Starbucks Corporation and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it (yet).
To quote Huckabee, there's no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle. Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by upstanding principles and humanity by showing up on Tuesday, August 7 or by participating online by tweeting your support (loop us in @equallywed) or contacting us on Facebook.
Equally Wed supports all corporations who support marriage equality, including Microsoft, Nike, Van Gogh Vodka, Amazon.com and so many more. A Starbucks is within driving distance of consumers across this great country, and we hope to make a visible stand of unity for marriage equality. We hope you'll join us in supporting Starbucks on National Starbucks Appreciation Day on August 7.
Visit http://isupportmarriageequality.com for more information.
Full disclosure: I am a former Starbucks barista, and I loved every day that I worked there as an out and proud lesbian.
Follow Kirsten Palladino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirstenop