Church of Starbucks

by Maggie Gallagher

I was at the annual board meeting of the Church of Starbucks in Seattle on Wednesday.

Honestly that’s what it felt like. It opened with a self-congratulatory pitch by Howard Schultz on how terrible life in America is, and how much he is helping, then it melded smoothly into a “our values are the barrier to entry for other coffee companies” bottom line.

I was there with the National Organization for Marriage, to ask Howard Schultz if it’s really true that gay marriage is “core” to Starbucks’s brand and its values.

He said yes.

NOM launched a campaign.

It’s the subject of my column this week:

I don’t generally support boycotts, especially not the kind gay marriage advocates have launched that target whole business enterprises if any one major partner personally donates to a measure like California’s Proposition 8. It’s wrong because the basic norms of business are that people of differing moral views, even on deeply felt moral issues like gay marriage and abortion, need to work together to grow a company to serve their customers and shareholders.

But Starbucks has voluntarily decided — as a corporation — to associate its brand with a major political issue, the CEO just confirmed. I was in the room. I heard him.

Customers across the world have a right to know that contrary to the promises made by the corporation in the Middle East and elsewhere, Starbucks does subsidize political causes. Drinking a cup of Starbucks coffee, sadly, means supporting gay marriage.

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