Starbucks, Microsoft, others support gay marriage initiative in Washington state

Posted by JD Uy
January 25, 2012 7:50 AM |

A number of major corporations are stepping forward to show their support for marriage equality in Washington state.

The Seattle Times has reposted a message today from Starbucks executive vice president, Kalen Holmes, that reads, in part:

Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples....

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. We are proud of our Pride Alliance Partner Network group, which is one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees in the U.S., helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities where we live and work.

For the last 20 years, our benefits program has offered domestic partner benefits in the U.S. These benefits include medical, dental, vision, prescription drugs and alternative health care coverage....

We look forward to seeing this legislation enacted into law.

Microsoft's Brad Smith posted a message online a few days ago stating that his corporation had joined with several other well-known companies to support Washington's new marriage bill. His argument for legalizing same-sex marriage hinged on the perception that talented employees, who are gay and in relationships, would be motivated to move to other states that offer full marriage equality: 

Today, Microsoft is joining other Northwest employers Concur, Group Health, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan Inc. in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. We believe that passing this bill would be good for our business and good for the state’s economy....

Our support today for Senate Bill 6239 and HB 2516, Washington’s marriage equality legislation, builds upon our previous work in this area.

As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families. Employers in the technology sector face an unprecedented national and global competition for top talent. Despite progress made in recent years with domestic partnership rights, same-sex couples in Washington still hold a different status from their neighbors. Marriage equality in Washington would put employers here on an equal footing with employers in the six other states that already recognize the committed relationships of same-sex couples – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. This in turn will help us continue to compete for talent.

While Microsoft’s support for marriage equality is motivated by respect for our employees, we also respect the views of those who may not agree with our position. For example, we have many highly valued and highly successful employees who hold a wide range of views on this and many other issues. We’re not asking anyone to change their views to conform to the company’s position.

We also recognize that marriage has meaning as both a civil and a religious institution. Like the marriage equality bill passed last year in New York State with bipartisan and business support, this bill preserves religious freedom in Washington’s churches while ending discrimination in Washington law.

Like the New York bill, we believe Washington’s legislation should be passed into law. It will make our state and our economy stronger.

Washington's Governor, Chris Gregoire, released this statement thanking those companies for supporting SB239 & HB2516:

I thank Microsoft, Nike, Vulcan, Inc., RealNetworks, Group Health Cooperative and Concur for standing up for marriage equality in our state. They understand that our same-sex couples deserve the same respect and dignity as their peers and that loving, committed relationships add to vibrant and diverse workforces. The support of these employers is courageous and appreciated.


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