Starbucks CEO Firm On Marriage Equality Despite Objections

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has some harsh words for those who oppose marriage equality, and when challenged, he refused to budge on speculation about a pro-gay rights stance affecting stock prices.

Schultz’s comments on marriage equality come as the Starbucks CEO also spoke out to voice support for a minimum wage increase. Earlier this week, the coffee chain head talked about the challenges posed to business by a minimum wage, but seemed to think it was the only ethical way forward.

Schultz said:

“On balance, I am a supporter of the minimum wage going u. We’ve got to be very careful what we wish for because some employers — and there could be a lot of them — will be scared away from hiring new people or creating incremental hours for part-time people as a result of that wage going up.”

The Starbucks CEO’s marriage equality stance seems to be part of a larger progressive kick, and the issue of gay marriage is one that has been known to divert customers to or from national chains in recent months — as seen in the Chick-Fil-A debacle last summer.

While support for marriage equality is increasing in America, the issue is still contentious — but when it comes to the bottom line, Schultz says, “not every decision is an economic decision.”

The Starbucks CEO made the marriage equality comments in a shareholder discussion Wednesday, in response to shareholder Tom Strobhar. Strobhar told Schultz that anti-gay rights customers may be turned off by Starbucks pro-marriage equality stance, and noted that “in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”

Starbucks

Schultz replied, telling Strobhar that “respectfully,” if he feels he can “get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country.” The CEO continued:

“You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”