Starbucks backs marriage equality

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Coffee giant Starbucks has backed draft legislation in Washington which would lift the state’s ban on gay marriage.

A statement from the Seattle-based hot drink titan says it is “proud” to join other Washington-based employers like Microsoft and Nike as support for equal marriage brews in the state.

The company, which had a global revenue of over $10bn in 2010 and 149,000 employees in 57 countries last year, said: “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. All partners (part-time and full-time) in all work locations, whether in a store, a roasting plant or a corporate office, adhere to the same eligibility requirements for health coverage and have access to the same comprehensive health plans.”

Last summer, the chief executive of the coffee colossus had to cancel a talk at an anti-gay mega-church.

Howard Schultz was due to speak at the 2011 Leadership Summit at Illinois-based Willow Creek Church, held this week.

A petition calling for him to cancel garnered more than 700 signatures and Schultz pulled out. It said that the church has a “long anti-gay history” and that it has “practiced [sic] dangerous conversion therapy to ‘cure’ people of their sexual orientation”.

Earlier this week, Mary Margaret Haugen became the crucial 25th state senator to back the move, meaning the equal marriage bill currently percolating in the legislature has enough support to pass through the senate.

Kalen Holmes, the company’s executive Vice President of Partner Resources signed off the statement this week saying: “We are deeply dedicated to embracing diversity and treating one another with respect and dignity, and remain committed to providing an inclusive, supportive and safe work environment for all of our partners.

“We look forward to seeing this legislation enacted into law.”