Chick-fil-A is not the first example of a major company making a bold statement about same-sex marriage. It’s not even the first this year. Here are some of the other major players.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference in front of a graphic showing the rise in sales of Kindle books during the launch of Amazon's new tablets in New York, in this September 28, 2011. SHANNON STAPLETON
Jeff Bezos, founder of digital retailer and media company Amazon.com, may have single-handedly shifted the fate of Washington state’s upcoming same-sex marriage ballot. In July, Mr. Bezos and his wife announced a $2.5-billion donation to the pro-gay marriage backers, tipping the financial scales in their favour for the November vote. It’s one of the biggest donations the movement has seen.
In supporting equal marriage, Amazon joined companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, the latter of which faced boycott threats after signing on.
Minnesota will be another same-sex-marriage battlefield this November, and corporations there are also taking public stances. Thomson Reuters, the New York-based company owned by the Canadian Thomson family, has 8,000 employees in the state and said in July it was against Minnesota’s proposal to ban same-sex marriage. The company has almost 8,000 employees in the state, and said a ban would be good for neither its employees nor the state’s business community.
Golden Valley, Minn.-based General Mills is among other companies to take that side in Minnesota.
This Thursday, July 19, 2012 photo shows a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Atlanta. Chick-fil-A, whose founder distinguished the fast-food chain by closing on Sunday out of religious piety, continues to mix theology with business and finds itself on the front lines of the nation’s culture wars after its president, Dan Cathy, confirmed his opposition to gay marriage in June 2012.Mike Stewart
When company heads are against same-sex marriage, they tend to be less direct in revealing their beliefs. Chick-Fil-A was already known as a Christian-operated chain, but the full extent of its stance on marriage didn’t come out until Mr. Cathy admitted his company’s support of “the biblical definition of the family unit” in a religion-focused interview with a Baptist newswire.
Other companies have been more subtle, with management making private donations to causes and not involving the company at all. There are cases where lines blur, though. Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan co-founded the Thomas More Law Centre, which aims to “restore family values” such as “traditional marriage.”
And while Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne says his business doesn’t have a political agenda, it pulled a T-shirt with the phrase “I support same-sex marriage” from at least one store in California in 2008, the year the state voted on Proposition 8, which returned gay marriage to being illegal (until it was overturned by an appeals court this winter). U.S. elections filings show Mr. Hayne has donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, including Rick Santorum, who oppose same-sex marriage.
Target Corp. is taking over Zellers stores in Canada and will open its own discount outlets by early 2013.
A moving target
As Canadians prepare for the arrival of the chain that hopes to take Zellers’ place in their affections, they may want to know that Target has flip-flopped in its stance on same-sex marriage.
In 2010, the company made a $150,000 (U.S.) donation to MN Forward, a Minnesota group that paid for advertising supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who had openly opposed same-sex marriage, along with abortion and other social issues.
Same-sex marriage activists called for a boycott, and Target shied away from the move a month later, claiming the donation was for economic reasons. The company has since swung in the other direction, and now sells shirts emblazoned with a rainbow and the word Pride, with money going to a non-profit that supports same-sex marriage.