Part of the problem with holding the required annual shareholders' meeting is having to talk to shareholders, as Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz found out yesterday. Shultz was taking questions after his presentation when a representative of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)–the people who funded the campaign for Prop 8 and have been spending money in any state that adopts anything but a 100-percent anti-gay message–asked a pointed question about Starbucks' support for marriage equality.
Shultz responded very politely, but was very firm: “I think Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time, we are going to make a decision that we think is consistent with the heritage and tradition of the company, that perhaps may be inconsistent with one group's view of the world.” Gay marriage was legalized recently in Washington, where Starbucks is headquartered; taking a pro-equality stance was, as Shultz pointed out, not a topic that engendered much debate amongst the senior leadership of America's most ubiquitous coffee shop. Here's the question and answer, from the Good As You blog.
NOM, of course, has taken to the Internet and social media with a campaign called “Dump Starbucks”. Interestingly, though the shareholders' meeting was on March 21, the dumpstarbucks.com host name was last updated on March 16, which means NOM was intending to do this regardless of Shultz's response.
It's unlikely that the 2,500 or so people who've signed NOM's articles of hate so far will make even a dent in the hordes of undercaffeinated office drones who wait, reusable cup in hand, for their morning fix. As Twitter user Mitchell Ferguson put it:
Sounds like it might be a great day for one of those venti half-caf mocha light upside-down soy caramel things… or even just a cup of coffee.