Kevin Vaughn: Getting facts about Starbucks letter

May 9, 2012 

This is in response to the article “Spilling Starbucks Agenda” printed in the April 20 edition.

The article claims that Starbucks’ choice to dedicate portions of their profits to a campaign in favor of same-sex marriage “alienates at least half of its U.S. customers and millions more worldwide in favor of a political agenda.” I visited DumpStarbucks.com, which is heading the boycott, in search for more information about these statistics. None are available. Doing a little independent research I found that the majority of Starbucks customers are educated adults between the ages of 18 to 40, that information was published by a journal called Small Business.

Another study by the bi-partisan think tank Pew Research Center demonstrates that same demographic is more likely to be in favor of same sex marriage. The same study also demonstrates that similarly developed countries in Europe are far more “liberal” in their opinions of same-sex marriage. I invite everyone to do their own research to find the real numbers.

It is additionally curious to note that DumpStarbucks, an international campaign, has a little more than 30,000 supporters. A campaign run by a group called SumOfUs had a total of 636,000 people thanking Starbucks for its support of gay rights. NOM, the group in charge of the campaign, has expanded their ads internationally, including to Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, countries that practice sharia law. Under sharia law homosexuality is punishable by death. That NOM is seeking acceptance within these cultures of violence is beyond frightening.

What is truly shocking is that anyone could be genuinely surprised to read that a major corporation is willing to do something that alienates its customers. That is the nature of big business in our globalized society. Money over people. It is also shocking that everyone isn’t outraged at BP for the worst environmental disaster the United States has ever faced; or private military contractors like Academi (formally Blackwater) that are not required to uphold any standard of law and profit off the deaths of our own citizens and innumerable humans abroad; or the practice of credit rating agencies to lie to investors and lead us into a crisis that has destroyed entire economies and left many of our fellow citizens homeless or unemployed. These are the business practices that are truly shocking, not that Starbucks supports the human rights of the customers that contribute to the success of their business.

Equally offensive is the assumption that anyone who believes in same-sex marriage doesn’t believe in marriage. I don’t separate the two. We are all humans, we are all citizens of this country and we all deserve the same rights and liberties. This is one of the foundations of our nation, and I suggest that anybody who believes the contrary read The Declaration of Independence. Marriage can be a religious experience, performed under the rules of God in a church. For those who don’t prescribe to that belief it can also be a simple legal union between two people in front of a judge outside of the house of God. What marriage always is is the symbol of two people who love one another, whether that be between two people of the same or opposite sex. This is another foundation of our nation, the separation of church and state and our government should not possess the right to strip one’s access to rights because of their practice or lack thereof of a particular religion.

The article was printed in the Opinion section. I suppose that doesn’t hold it up to the basic standards of journalism, principally checking facts before publishing information. But anything less than that is blind sighted, reckless and in this particular case, hateful, and I don’t see a place for that in our community either.

Kevin Vaughn, Buenos Aires, Argentina, formerly of Los Banos

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