Same-sex marriage advocates across the country are rallying to organize a National Marriage Equality Day on Tuesday, calling on supporters to visit a Starbucks, or select other businesses, that support marriage rights for all people.
The social media movement began just days after crowds packed into Chick-fil-A locations across the country last week to show support for the chain president Dan Cathy’s widely publicized statements opposing same-sex marriage.
The unofficial Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was originally proposed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee via Facebook. It was not organized by Chick-fil-A, although the company later said the efforts led to a record-setting day in terms of sales.
On Friday, thousands of same-sex couples reportedly gathered at Chick-fil-A locations across the country to kiss as a way of protesting Cathy’s views.
Starbucks has also not officially endorsed the proposed National Marriage Equality Day this week, which is being organized by the online magazine Equally Wed.
In a post on the magazine’s website Thursday, Kirsten Ott Palladino, Equally Wed’s founder and editor in chief, called on supporters of equal marriage rights to visit businesses that have expressed support for same-sex marriage legislation.
Ott Palladino, who describes herself as a former Starbucks barista who worked there as “an out and proud lesbian,” first proposed Starbucks as a gathering point, noting that the coffeehouse earlier this year announced its support for legislation adopted in Washington state legalizing same-sex marriage.
In a memo to Starbucks employees in January, Kalen Holmes, Starbucks’ executive vice president, partner resources, said the marriage rights 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.”
The memo also noted that Starbucks has a Pride Alliance Partner Network group, which Holmes said is one of the largest employer resource groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the U.S. The company also offers comprehensive health benefits to domestic partners.
Starbucks was criticized by some for the position. An online effort dubbed “Dump Starbucks” organized by the National Organization for Marriage earlier this year urged opponents of same-sex marriage to boycott the coffeehouse chain and to sign a petition, call or use social media to express disapproval.
At its annual shareholders meeting in March, Starbucks chair, president and chief executive Howard Schultz addressed concerns about the company’s position by acknowledging that some may “view it as a mistake,” but that the decision was right for the company and has in no way diluted shareholder value.
Ott Palladino said she was inspired by the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day efforts, if only to encourage same-sex marriage supporters to take a similar “unified stand.”
“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, Aug. 7.”
The movement grew on Friday to include other businesses that support LGBT rights, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Absolut Vodka, Amazon.com, Delta, Disney, General Mills, Google, J.C. Penney, Kenneth Cole, Kimpton Hotels, Levi-Strauss, Macy’s, Marshalls, Nike, Sears, Tiffany & Co., and T.J. Maxx.