NOM Sets Sights on Starbucks for Gay Marriage Support
The leaders of the anti-gay marriage group the National Organization for Marriage are furious that the LGBT community made great strides after Election Day. NOM is taking its anger out on Starbucks, one of the many large companies that financially supported gay marriage efforts in Washington State, the Colorado Independent reports.
While gay rights activists praised the Seattle-based coffee chain's support for marriage equality, officials from NOM are determined to make Starbucks "pay" in countries in the Middle East that stand firmly against any LGBT rights.
The organization's statements came during a conference call on Nov. 8 when members discussed the legalization of same-sex marriage in three states, Maryland, Maine and Washington, and the defeat of a gay marriage ban in Minnesota.
During the meeting, NOM's leaders said they needed to improve their fundraising efforts and that Mitt Romney should have focused more on gay marriage. They also blamed Karl Rove for encouraging the Republican Party and conservative groups to focus on economic issues and almost ignore social issues.
According to the Independent, one person in the meeting asked how NOM could "stop the wave of corporate sponsorship of gay marriage" coming from Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks and General Mills. Starbucks came out firmly for marriage equality in its home state of Washington State; while General Mills did the same in Minnesota, where it is based.
The group's president, Brian Brown, said that NOM will target Starbucks' international brand with a boycott campaign that will aim to bring awareness to customers in the Middle East that the coffee company supports LGBT rights
"So for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we've begun working to make sure that there's some price to be paid for this," Brown said in audio recording of the meeting. "These are not countries that look kindly on same-sex marriage. And this is where Starbucks wants to expand, as well as India. So we have done some of this; we've got to do a lot more."
Brown also commented on the way NOM has spent its money and says that the group has been able to get 50,000 people to stop buying Starbucks' products.
"Has it had some effect? I think so, but it's nowhere near enough," Brown said. "An example has to be made of some of these companies if we're going to get this sort of tidal wave of support for same-sex marriage to stop." (Brown apparently hasn't noticed the counter-tide of pro marriage-equality advocates who have been making a point of patronizing the coffee chain.)
In March, the Associated Press reported that NOM created a "Dump Starbucks" protest. The group's officials claimed they would put ads up throughout the U.S., Southeast Asia and the Middle East that urged customers to boycott the company because it supports marriage equality.
"We will not tolerate an international company attempting to force its misguided values on citizens," Brown said in a statement.
But Starbucks's CEO Howard Schultz defended the coffee company's views on same-sex marriage and said, "in our view, through the lens of humanity, and being the kind of company that embraces diversity."
Some have criticized the campaign as putting Starbucks employees' lives in possible jeopardy in the jittery Muslim countries where NOM is making its pitch. Radical Islamic groups, motivated by NOM's message, could target Starbucks for terror attacks.