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The Glaring Problem With National Starbucks Appreciation Day | The Nation

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Cord Jefferson

Cord Jefferson

Thinking from the intersection of race, culture and politics. Also, talking smartly about stupid things.

The Glaring Problem With National Starbucks Appreciation Day


(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

With Chick-fil-A announcing record profits following Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, a fake holiday created by conservative pundits to support the controversial fast-food chain, angry liberals are setting out to respond in kind. August 7, if this Facebook event from gay rights organization Equally Wed is to be believed, is now National Marriage Equality Day, also known as National Starbucks Appreciation Day. The goal, Kirsten Palladino of Equally Wed wrote in the Huffington Post, is simple: “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, August 7.” While I support the right of gays and lesbians to marry about as much as anyone who is not gay can, I don’t think I’ll be joining Palladino and her friends at Starbucks on Tuesday.

I’m not sure how we got to a place in which it’s considered a political act to buy fast food, but here we are. For the conservatives, it was fried-chicken sandwiches, and now, for the liberals’ turn, we get hastily prepared Frappuccinos. It would be one thing if Starbucks was working in conjunction with Equally Wed. If the coffee giant was giving some of the proceeds from National Marriage Equality Day to any of the very worthy nonprofits working to make same-sex marriage in America legal, I’d be the first one in line on August 7. As it stands, however, Starbucks has yet to make a peep about Starbucks Appreciation Day. Rather, the day is a response to Starbucks’ corporate office’s proclaiming in March of this year that it supports marriage equality in the company’s home state of Washington. Good for Starbucks, but what has it done for me lately? Specifically, is it ready to put its money where its mouth is on August 7?

To be sure, anyone who supports gay rights should say kudos to Starbucks for sacrificing customers by coming out in support of marriage equality (the National Organization for Marriage, of course, has already called for a boycott). But unless Starbucks is going to donate a large percentage of the largesse it gets on August 7 to gay rights causes, why should liberals feel obligated to give their money to a giant corporation? In what way is further enriching a food and beverage manufacturer a statement on same-sex marriage?

One of the reasons Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was such a success is because Dan Cathy, the company’s president, unabashedly donates millions of dollars to organizations trying to squash gay rights. When conservatives flooded Cathy’s restaurants on August 1, they weren’t just symbolically supporting his political views; they were also offering money to someone who routinely gives cash injections to bigots. Starbucks, a much bigger operation than Chick-fil-A, doesn’t do what Cathy does. It’s more friendly to the LGBTQ community than many companies its size, of course, but it doesn’t donate massive chunks of its fortune to gay causes, probably because doing so would be too politically imprudent. I don’t begrudge them their smart business decision, but I’m not planning on giving them any of my money tomorrow, either.

Until Starbucks comes out and says it plans on charitably parting with a significant portion of its August 7 profits, I recommend staying home on that day with your French press. You can write a check to Freedom to Marry or the Human Rights Campaign and be confident that your money is going directly to people in the thick of the struggle for same-sex marriage. Besides, Starbucks burns the hell out of their beans anyway.

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