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Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz firmly defended his company's support of same-sex marriage at the company's annual shareholder meeting on March 20.

Schultz understood that his open support of gay marriage would hurt company earnings, but with over 200,000 people employed in the company, he stated, “we want to embrace diversity,” and that “This was not an economic decision.”

During the meeting, shareholder Thomas Strobhar argued that the company's endorsement of legal unions between same-sex couples was hurting Starbuck's bottom line. Schultz responded by telling him to invest elsewhere if he wanted.

Strobhar is the founder of the Corporate Military Action Center, which stated that its mission is to challenge corporations on issues like gay marriage, abortion and pornography.

In 2011, Starbucks was one of 70 businesses and organizations that filed a brief in federal court opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts the definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman.

In March 2012, the National Organization for Marriage organized a “Dump Starbucks” boycott when the company endorsed a Washington state bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Starbucks suffered in its first quarter after the boycott with disappointing sales and earnings.

The number of those who don't support gay rights are dwindling, which rationalized why big companies like Starbucks are more afraid of losing their talented employees or loyal customers who support it.

The Supreme Court case on March 26 and 27 discussed California's Proposition 8, a four-year-old same-sex marriage ban; and challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies financial and other benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

After the oral arguments, gay rights supporters were hopeful. The Supreme Court will ultimately reach a decision by late June 2013. This issue has divided the nation for decades and this decision will mark another milestone in the gay rights campaign.

Whichever decision is made, it can be assumed that the loser of the case will prepare for the future and there will be more lawsuits down the line.

This will mark a milestone on an issue that has divided the nation for decades. Whichever decision is made, it can be assumed that the loser of the case will prepare for the future and there will be more lawsuits down the line.

Of the 50 states, 31 have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. It is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. The remaining states have varying policies in which some recognize marriage from other states, some provide some of the legal benefits of marriage and others deny marriage by state laws.

Year to date, shares of Starbucks are trading up 8.72 percent.

Posted-In: Corporate Military Action Center Defense of Marriage Act Howard Schultz National Organization and Marriage Proposition 8 Supreme Court Thomas StrobharNews Legal Management General Best of Benzinga

 

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