"Americans should be able to drink a peaceful cup of coffee without worrying that a portion of the company's profits is going to be used to push gay marriage without a vote from the people," said Brown. "This is a gratuitous leap into a hot button culture war issue; respect for diversity touted by Starbucks ought to include respecting the diverse views of all its customers and employees."There are a few things that I want to highlight here:
- Brown seems to miss the irony of his organization issuing a public press release criticizing the public policy position of an organization. In effect, in criticizing Starbucks, NOM is doing the exact same thing that it is criticizing Starbucks for.
- As a private company, Starbucks is free to publicly support or condemn whatever it wants. The public is likewise free to react to Starbucks' positions by choosing whether or not to patronize its establishments. This is how the free market works. Americans do not have any inherent right to enjoy Starbucks' coffee without having the burden of thinking about the company's positions.
- I do not see how Starbucks' entry into this cultural issue is any more "gratuitous" than NOM's. It may be wrong, or misguided, or even evil, but by using the term "gratuitous," NOM is implying that Starbucks has no business opining on public policy. Unfortunately for NOM, that is a fundamental right of all Americans.
- NOM goes on to state that they are concerned that Starbucks may discriminate against those who disagree with their position, be they employees or customers. As I've written before, one of the fundamental rights that individuals and business owners alike should be able to exercise is freedom of association. If individuals have the right to boycott Starbucks over a public policy position, Starbucks should have the right to refuse service/employment to individuals for the same reasons.
This is one of the reasons that single-issue organizations, even those I agree with in principle, give me pause. Historically, if an organization is committed to a single issue, then they tend to be willing to do anything to further that cause, even if it sacrifices something else good in the process. I happen to agree with NOM that same-sex marriage is a moral evil. However, I'm concerned that in their rush to defend marriage, they are willing to run roughshod over anything that stands in the way, even if that something is as fundamental as freedom of speech or freedom of association.