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What ‘National Marriage Equality Day’?

What ‘National Marriage Equality Day’?

by Karen Ocamb on August 7, 2012

Imagine my surprise Tuesday morning when I woke up to find that TODAY is supposed to be “National Marriage Equality Day.” CNN reports: 

(CNN) - Same-sex marriage activists are planning to head to Starbucks and other brick and mortar stores in droves today.

“Equally Wed”, an online lesbian and gay wedding magazine, dreamed up the idea to support businesses that are for marriage equality. The magazine decided August 7th will be national marriage equality day.

So far, more than 32-thousand people have signed up on the magazine’s Facebook page to participate.

You read that correctly: “the magazine decided August 7th will be national marriage equality day.” There is nothing on Freedom to Marry’s website – and surely you would think the national organization at the forefront of fighting for marriage equality for so many years would at least KNOW about this “national” effort, organized apparently in response to Mike Huckabee’s well-promoted national Chick-fil-A campaign.

Now this might be some young LGBT activists’ idea of “doing something” in the face of those jubilant faces lining up to express their antigay hatred at fast food Chic-fil-A joints recently. Or it could well be a marketing ploy – complete with a photo contest – by an online magazine trying to get more attention and “clicks.”But it’s now been picked up by CNN, Politico and other outlets, with the LA Times asking: “Starbucks appreciation: Will retort to Chick-fil-A day succeed?”

Success depends on how many people know and act on the promoted event. But the online magazine itself doesn’t even shout about the day. It’s one of several rotating promos on the front page. Click through and you see this:

We are so happy that you are here with us to fight for marriage equality. Our original goal was to support Starbucks for being so supportive of our community and our rights. We specifically chose a brick-and-mortar chain to have visible support around the country on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in direct response to Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Day.

In an effort to heighten awareness for all companies and nonprofits contributing to the fight for marriage equality, we’ve decided to rename August 7 as National Marriage Equality Day. EquallyWed.com asks that you spend your money wisely on this day, and every day. It’s important to be an informed consumer. RSVP on Facebook here and join the conversation.

This expansion of focus is the result of the direct encouragement of Starbucks Corporate Headquarters who wanted other equality-minded companies and organizations to share in the appreciation.

There is no link to that “direct encouragement” from Starbucks so it’s confusing about what, exactly they’re referring to. In writing about the story, the Nation’s Restaurant News wrote:

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.”

She urged supporters to RSVP on Facebook or tweet support by looping in @equallywed.

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.

So – how does KTLA in Los Angeles – which also posted the story – cover the turnout for this Day?  Will they go photograph folks getting coffee at Starbucks in West Hollywood – where it is always Starbucks Appreciation Day? And how many of those interviewed will have any clue they’re the LGBT counter-part to Huckabee’s enthusiastic throng? How measure the “turnout” to Amazon or Google or Absolut Vodka? StopDrLaura and the grassroots organized national “Day of Decision” around Prop 8 all involved respect and coordination with others, consideration of messaging and taking to the streets to provide visuals, something measurable.

My concern is that this probably well-intentioned effort could be misused and misrepresented by the Religious Right and right-wing media to make us look feckless. Hopefully, next time someone decides to rename a day and act as if they represent the entire LGBT community, they might do some preparation first before alerting the media. These days, the whole world really is watching – including every move we make.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana August 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM

We think that DOMA will be upheld. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The majority of voters passed Yes on Prop 8 . We also have dumped Starbucks!


linda August 9, 2012 at 12:09 PM

I agree with Diana above 08/07/12 I support and voted YES on Prop 8. I am a black female and support traditional marriage.


linda August 9, 2012 at 12:12 PM

will boycott Starbucks & other businesses listed in this article


Sherri Gray July 28, 2013 at 10:26 AM

i intend to find out which businesses support marriage equality and will make an effort to shop/do business with them on 8/7/13, as well as in the future.

i also hope that any like-minded persons who read this will listen to my marriage equality anthem – youtube viral…


I hope everyone will celebrate National Marriage Equality Day!


Sherri Gray


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