Starbucks' Howard Schultz defends decision to back gay marriage

Fri. March 22, 2013 6:19 AM by

Seattle, WA - Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has defended the decision to back gay marriage in Washington state.

Starbucks was among the companies that last year spoke out in favor of passage of Washington's referendum which upheld a marriage law approved by lawmakers.

At the company's annual meeting held on Wednesday, a shareholder linked to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of marriage equality, suggested that a boycott launched by NOM over the company's stance had affected its bottom line.

"In the first quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings, shall we say politely, were a bit disappointing," Tom Strobhar said.

Schultz said the decision was based on respecting diversity, not increasing sales.

"If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it's a free country," Schultz said. "You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much."

Schultz's comments drew loud applause from the audience.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine