It’s refreshing and encouraging to know that there are CEOs, companies, and shareholders who are putting greater value on people than they are on money.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has a message for those who oppose gay marriage and who attempt to coerce corporations through threat of economic reprisal to support that kind of discrimination.
Go ahead and sell your shares. The challenge for you is to try to earn better returns elsewhere.
Forbes reported on Friday that this was the message from Schultz at a shareholder meeting this past week.
It was gratifying to read and to watch his response to the question from Tom Strobhar, founder of The
Corporate Morality Action Center, in which Mr. Strobhar challenged Starbuck’s decision last year to support Washington’s state referendum backing gay marriage. Mr. Schultz’s response put another well-deserved, large, and powerfully branded nail in the coffin of the anti-gay marriage movement, and this time it was a free market nail.
Noble sounding organizations aside, we can now add bad economics to the long list of undesirable traits associated with being against gay marriage.
All that our gay family, friends, and fellow citizens want is for the rest of us to stay out of their lives and their decisions about whom they love and whom they can marry. The opposition to gay marriage is rooted in the exact same type of prejudice, bigotry, and hatred that we’ve overcome before as a society. We have succeeded in overturning the laws and in stamping out the cultural and religious taboos that once vilified marriages between people of different races, religions, and ethnicity.
It’s far past the time that we do it again, this time for gay marriage.
The difference this time is capitalism.
Not every CEO will have the courage to say what Schultz said – and 38% returns can make a person awfully courageous – but growing numbers of gay marriage supporters will easily out-flex their consumer muscles in the coming years. That will put capitalists squarely on the side of gay marriage, and leave Mr. Strobhar and his peculiar brand of economics far behind.
The financial performance of Starbucks proves just how wrong the anti-gay movement is about their assumed economic power. The truth is that they have less and less significance on every level of our society. They are a dwindling minority in their belief that discriminating against gay Americans is not only tolerable but desirable.
When even the cold heart, blind eye, and invisible hand of capitalism starts to tell you that you’re wrong, maybe you need to listen, Mr. Strobhar. You and people like you are simply invited to take your shrinking purchasing power and your investment dollars elsewhere.
You are free in America to believe in discrimination. Just be prepared to accept that those beliefs have less and less significance in our society. Even corporations are telling you quite bluntly and very directly the same thing. The disappearance of your anti-gay dollars had no meaningful impact at Starbucks. You will have even less impact on corporate profitability as our society progresses toward a future in which a smaller and smaller number of Americans will want to discriminate against their family, friends, and neighbors.
The hammer is falling on the last few nails in the coffin of anti-gay hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. It’s music to the ears of the socially conscience and progressive among us. It’s also encouraging to those of us who are capitalists when corporate leaders take a stand and choose to operate with a social conscience.