The news on Friday about Amazon's Jeff Bezos giving $2.5 million to the effort of marriage equality in Washington State marked a milestone. Bezos' donation may well be the largest single donation to marriage equality and a ballot initiative, according to Washington United for Marriage.
This puts Amazon among the most high-profile multi-billion dollar corporations pro-actively backing LGBT rights, joining Microsoft, Google, and Starbucks, as well as a slew of old guard companies, like General Mills and Kraft.
And here we are, in a media firestorm over this pipsqueak, Chick-fil-A?
That's not to downplay the effect of the millions of dollars Chick-fil-A has given to anti-gay hate groups, labeled as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Nor can we negate the ugly words of its president, Dan Cathy, who has accused gays and lesbians of "audacity" and "inviting God's judgement" simply for asking for equal rights.
But it's important to take note that we have global giants with massive reach and influence pushing for LGBT rights across the entire planet vs. an antigay fast-food franchise whose outlets are predominantly centered in red state America (under 1,700 locations in 39 states) and which is out-numbered by pro-gay Starbucks (over 19,000 locations worldwide) even in those red states probably by 7-to-1.
And this unending controversy is likely going to limit Chick-fil-A's growth, as politicians speak out against it and as consumers in highly populated blue state America who don't have a clue about it (there is one Chick-fil-A in the entire state of New York, and one in the entire state of Michigan), get a bad taste in their mouths about Chick-fil-A before having even tried one of its chicken sandwiches. Way to go at expanding your brand, Dan Cathy.
Meanwhile, Google has launched a plan to transform nothing less than Planet Earth itself on LGBT rights, a "Legalize Love" campaign pressuring anti-gay governments around the world to abolish laws that discriminate against gays, and has been joined by other companies. Evangelical groups are actually attempting to boycott Google, which is kind of like trying to boycott oxygen. And what next? Do they really believe they'd be successful at a global boycott of Amazon, which has millions of people in dozens of countries around the world ordering books, clothes, furniture, appliances, DVDs, laundry products, wallpaper, pet supplies, hair gel and you-name-it every day , delivered to the comfort of their homes? Good luck with that one.
The National Organization for Marriage's boycott of Starbucks not only failed, it backfired big time, with Starbucks getting more support from pro-gay customers who came to drink coffee and support equality at the same time. Asking people to give up a jolt of caffeine that they could get, in some cities, on every fourth corner on their way to work was not the brightest idea. But more so, just who does NOM think Starbucks drinkers are? Every poll shows that the younger people are the more likely they are to support marriage equality, and 48 percent of Starbucks drinkers are in the 18-34 age group. It was doomed to fail, and it's only going to get worse.
None of that is to suggest that we should not forcefully take on Chic-fil-A and Dan Cathy's bigotry. Nor am I suggesting there aren't some very troubling business practices we should all be concerned about among the global behemoths, including on issues of human rights, and surely their global reach has problems onto itself. But on the issue of LGBT rights specifically, if Chick-fil-A is the most high-profile company the anti-gays have pushing their agenda, I think we can see where things are headed.
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