In terms of sheer numbers, the "Dump Starbucks" campaign, launched by the conservative National Organization for Marriage (NOM), looks like it could use a shot or two of espresso.
Last week, Starbucks (SBUX) became the target of a religious right international boycott after the coffee giant joined a number of prominent corporations including Microsoft (MSFT), Vulcan, Nike (NKE), RealNetworks (RNWK), Group Health Cooperative, and Concur (CNQR) in their support for same-sex marriage legislation in the Washington State legislature ahead of lawmakers voting on a gay marriage bill.
"We are urging customers across the globe to 'Dump Starbucks' because it has taken a corporate-wide position that the definition of marriage between one man and one woman should be eliminated and that same-sex marriage should become equally 'normal,' " reads the statement on NOM's website. "As such, Starbucks has deeply offended at least half its US customers, and the vast majority of its international customers."
As of today, nearly 19,000 people have signed the group's pledge to boycott Starbucks. Impressive? On its face, possibly. That is, until you consider the over 234,000 signatures the liberal advocacy group SumOfUs has acquired to put on a "Thank You" card to Starbucks for its marriage equality stance.
SumOfUs originally set its counteroffensive into motion with a goal of just 40,000 signers. The organization more than tripled that number within the space of 48 hours. But with threats by NOM to intensify its campaign, including running ads throughout the US, as well as in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, SumOfUs has reconstituted its effort with a new goal of 250,000 signatures.
"We need to show Starbucks and other big corporations that standing up for gay rights is good for business!" SumOfUs wrote in an email sent to subscribers.
Last month, the Washington House and Senate passed the measure recognizing same-sex nuptials and it was signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire on February 13. The bill's sponsor, Democratic state Senator Ed Murray, credited support from the business community for its passage in Congress. "It's how we got moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats to vote for this," he said.
But over the past few years, American public opinion has shifted in favor of gay marriage. Contrary to NOM's assertion that Starbucks has outraged at least half of its US customer base, an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted earlier this month shows that 52% of Americans believe gay and lesbian couples should be able to get married while 43% think it should be illegal.
And you have to wonder how much of that 43% are the latte drinking type.
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