SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Starbucks' outspoken CEO, Howard Schultz, staunchly defended his company's support of marriage equality last week when he challenged shareholders opposed to same-sex unions to sell their stock. Schultz was quick to point out that his endorsement of diversity had less to do with profits and economics than good corporate citizenship. During his five-year tenure as the global coffee retailer's chief executive, Schultz has adopted a rare role for a business leader: political activist. He has called for campaign finance reform, corporate social responsibility and now gay rights. Anti-gay companies such as Papa John's Pizza and Chick-fil-A balked in response. But prominent conservatives called for action against Starbucks, fearing that Schultz's embrace of the LGBT community would create a dangerous social situation. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council -- now labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- warned lawmakers that more gays frequenting Starbucks means more gays hopped up on caffeine. "And that can only lead to a terrifying outbreak of bestiality, sodomy, child molestation and skinny jeans," Perkins said.
Last year, the Washington-based coffee chain openly backed the state's referendum that legalized gay marriage. Since that time, investors have speculated that the boycott launched against Starbucks by the National Organization for Marriage has harmed the company's bottom line. Addressing these concerns during the last shareholder's meeting, Schultz curtly fired back that "if you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it's a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much."
Conservatives reminded Starbucks shareholders that Schultz's fiery attitude toward equal rights for homosexuals shouldn't have come as a surprise. Starbucks took its name from the first mate of the ill-fated crew aboard Melville's Pequod, the Nantucket whaler in "Moby Dick." And according to gay rights opponents, there's nothing gayer than a ship full of repressed seamen driving long, barbed shafts into a giant sperm whale.
Schultz's stand comes at a pivotal time. As the Supreme Court prepares to take up the historic same-sex marriage battle, several high profile politicians have thrown their support behind the LGBT community. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) have all publicly voiced support over the last few days.
Even more surprising, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a former anti-gay advocate who was once considered for Mitt Romney's running mate, changed his stance after his son came out of the closet.
Aligning himself with Romney's Mormon views, Portman had also decried the consumption of caffeine until Monday, at which time he expressed solidarity with Schultz and Starbucks.
"It's been a revelatory couple of weeks for me and my family," Portman told the press. "First I found out my son is gay, and then today I learned he is also an avid coffee drinker. So, I now support coffee."
"I sure hope he doesn't tell me he's a pro-choice, socialist, tree-hugging atheist, because I don't know how many other core values I can compromise and keep my job," he joked in parting, sponging a cataract of sweat from his brow.
Regardless of the momentum marriage equality is gaining across the political divide, plenty of powerful pundits and lawmakers oppose it. Even the Supreme Court hinted that it would not likely issue a sweeping ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex unions, or strike down laws prohibiting homosexuals to legally wed.
But conservatives like Tony Perkins, Ann Coulter, Tim Scott and Rick Santorum say the issue extends far beyond their support of DOMA.
"What the CEO of Starbucks has done poses a much larger social threat than gays and lesbians walking down the aisle," Perkins said. "He's put every heterosexual man, woman, child and family pet in America in peril."
Perkins estimates that Schultz's challenge to gay-hating shareholders will serve as a rallying cry for the LGBT community.
"I don't know where gays eat and drink normally, if you could call them normal, but my guess is that it's going to be Starbucks from here on out," Perkins explained. "Starbucks might think its profits will soar, but as heterosexuals take their business elsewhere, that 10 percent of the gay world isn't going to help. Beyond that, however, Starbucks is going to become a mill that churns out amped-up, caffeine-high reprobates who, mad on coffee, will rape your husbands, fathers, sons, poodles, gerbils and even your wives. I know it's easy to forget about lesbians in all this, but lesbian rape is one of the most violent, cruel and methodical tortures you could imagine. We have a neighbor whose daughter was a victim. Every time she hears 'Snowbird,' she ends up back in the hospital for another round of electroshock therapy and Kirk Cameron movies."
In related business news, both Papa John's and Chick-fil-A have announced that they will begin selling their own gourmet coffee brands, targeted toward homophobic consumers.
2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.