Starbucks Serves up a Cup of Support For Marrige Equality in Washington

At least eight major corporations in the state of Washington have  now announced their support for legislation that would legalize same gender marriage.

In a letter sent to state lawmakers last week, the heads of Nike, RealNetworks, Vulcan, Group Health Cooperative and Concur expressed their support for,”SB 6239 and HB 2516 recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples.”

Microsoft, which played it neutral during Washington’s last marriage equality fight in 2005, also chimed in,”Microsoft’s greatest asset is a talented workforce as diverse as our customers. As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, equitable and inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families. This legislation would put Washington employers on equal footing with employers in the six other states that already recognize the committed relationships of same-sex couples. Passing the bill would be good for our business and for the state’s economy,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president for legal and corporate affairs

On Tuesday, Seattle’s most famous coffee chain announced that it too was backing the bills. In a letter to its partners in the U.S., the company’s executive vice president of Partner Resources, Kalen Holmes writes, “This important 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. We are proud of our Pride Alliance Partner Network group, which is one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees in the U.S., helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities where we live and work.”

The corporate backing may come in useful when the fight over the bill really takes off. Anti-equality backers are pledging  a ballot effort that would repeal same gender marriage once it becomes law. Backers and foes of the prop 8 ballot initiative in California spent more that $83 million on both sides of the 2008 effort there.

A recent poll conducted by King5 TV shows a slight majority of Washington voters support the marriage equality effort,”47% said they would approve the law, while 46% said they would reject it; 7% said they weren’t sure.”

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