After hundreds of thousands of people ate "mor chikin" last week to support the Chick-fil-A CEO's traditional-marriage stance, another prominent company has found itself in the crosshairs of a boycott sparked by its executive's marriage beliefs.
The Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, financially supported by Amway president Doug DeVos, donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-gay marriage group that was one of the leading advocates against same-sex marriage initiatives in eight states.
Because of that 2009 donation, gay rights activist are calling for a boycott of Ada, Mich.-based Amway, a health and beauty products company, and its affiliates including the Orlando Magic basketball team, which DeVos' father and Amway co-founder Richard DeVos owns.
"NOM constantly defends anti-LGBT companies like its ally Chick-fil-A and its owner for hateful and bigoted comments and actions," gay rights activist and long-shot presidential candidate Fred Karger wrote in a statement announcing the boycott Friday.
Karger, the president of the LGBT advocacy group Rights Equal Rights, said the goal of groups like the National Organization for Marriage "appears to be harming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Americans."
But Amway said the donation stemmed from DeVos' personal beliefs and the "Amway opportunity is open to everyone."
"As private citizens, the DeVos family supports causes and organizations that advocate for policies aligned to their personal beliefs," Amway said in a statement.
The company added that the DeVos family believes "one of the highest callings of any individual is to express their own personal beliefs as a participant in the democratic process."
Amway president Doug DeVos has apparently made no public statements about the issue one way or another.
A spokesman for the Orlando Magic said the team has seen no affect on ticket sales or support from the boycott.
While companies like Amway and Chick-fil-A have been recently ensnared in controversy because of their executives' support for traditional marriage, they are not alone in taking sides in the gay-marriage debate. Here's a look at some of America's biggest businesses or corporate executives who've braved the inevitable storm and taken a public stance on same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy ignited a controversy in a radio interview last week when he publicly denounced gay marriage. "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
The restaurant has long-espoused Christian values, even going so far as to remain closed on Sundays.
In response to the company's stance even before Cathy's comments, online cooking guru Hilah Johnson launched a "Chick-fil-Gay" sandwich recipe on her blog and YouTube "HilahCooking" channel. Johnson referred to the recipe as a way to get the taste of a Chick-fil-A sandwich with "less sugar, less salt, and less funding for anti-human-equality organizations."
In a statement made after the CEO's remarks, Chick-fil-A reaffirmed its foundation on "biblically-based principles," but also said that "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect, regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." Company officials said they plan to "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena" in the future.
During the first week of July, Google announced a new "Legalize Love" campaign to help promote safer working environments for gays and lesbians around the world. While originally understood by many as a campaign to support the legalization of gay marriage, Google has since clarified the goals of the project, saying that it is intended to create safer conditions for gays and lesbians "in countries with anti-gay laws on the books."
Google leadership has long been pro-gay rights, and outspokenly so; its CEO, Sergey Brin, spoke out against California's Proposition 8 in 2008. Google began compensating employees in 2010 with same-sex partners to help cover taxes on domestic partner health benefits.
The packaged foods giant posted this photo of a rainbow Oreo on its Facebook page in June in support of gay-pride month. An outpouring of responses quickly flooded the company's page, and consumers' posts ranged from the supportive to the damning. "Disgusted with oreos," one commenter wrote. "Being gay is an abmonitation [sic] in God's eyes i wont be buying them anymore."
Kraft did not actually sell the rainbow-stuffed Oreo, and said the digitally altered image was created simply for online posting as part of the company's support for gay pride month. Nonetheless, some consumers said they would boycott the company - a statement that led supporters of gay marriage to strike back, listing the myriad of foods -- everything from Capri Sun juice to Velveeta to Triscuits -- that boycotters of the food giant would have to swear off in order to make good on that claim.
|Ben & Jerry's|
Ben & Jerry's has been publicly supportive of gay marriage since 2009, when it renamed its "Chubby Hubby" flavor to "Hubby Hubby" to celebrate the passage of Vermont legislature allowing gay marriage. More recently, the Vermont ice cream merchant renamed its apple pie ice cream "Apple-y Ever After" as part of a push to legalize gay marriage in the United Kingdom. Ben & Jerry's encourages customers to get involved in advocacy efforts on its website and through Facebook apps.
Minneapolis-based General Mills recently stepped straight into a contentious battle surrounding an amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would ban gay marriage. General Mills, which is headquartered in Minnesota, announced in June that it was against the amendment. While the firm had long been considered an ally of the gay and lesbian community, its public announcement was unexpected.
Protestors and supporters came out of the woodwork after General Mills made its position clear. Protestors gathered outside the company's headquarters soon after the announcement, but the firm stayed cordial, offering the activists coffee, water and even cookies (the last of which the protestors turned down).
In May, the Minneapolis-based retail giant Target rolled out a line of gay pride T-shirts and announced that all proceeds from sales of the shirts would go to the Family Equality Council, the well-known gay rights advocacy group.
While Target Corp. has partnered with the Family Equality Council for more than a decade, the company has previously come under fire for supporting politicians who oppose gay marriage. Millions boycotted and protested the retail chain after it made a $150,000 donation to MN Forward, which supported Tom Emmer, Minnesota gubernatorial candidate and gay rights opponent, in 2010.
Despite the retailer's assertions that it is a staunch supporter of the LGBT community, its recent decision not to sell Frank Ocean's album has put its position on the issue back under public scrutiny. Ocean has recently revealed that his first romantic relationship was with another man. Target says its decision not to carry Ocean's album is because of his iTunes exclusive; the album was released on iTunes one week earlier than any other retailer that picks up his release.