Nordstrom supports the freedom to marry in Washington state
October 11, 2012
Today, apparel retailer Nordstrom announced their support for the freedom to marry by officially endorsing Washington United for Marriage, the coalition of pro-marriage organizations working to uphold the freedom to marry by approving Referendum 74 at the ballot on November 6.
Leaders at Nordstrom circulated an internal email today announcing their support to their employees. The email, signed by Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, Inc.; Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising; and Erik Nordstrom, President of Stores, reads:
We have long had a philosophical approach to our business to be inclusive about the way we serve customers as well as how we work to create a workplace where every employee is welcomed and respected. It's simply how we operate.
With respect to our gay and lesbian employees, Nordstrom was an early adopter of adding sexual orientation to our anti-discrimination policy, which means we guarantee the same legal rights and protections in our workplace to gay and lesbian employees just as we do for other employees regardless of sex, race, color, creed, national origin, religion, age, marital status, pregnancy, physical, mental or sensory disability, and gender identity. This goes beyond the Federal government's protection in Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which still excludes sexual orientation. In 1998, we began offering life partner benefits to employees.
We feel the next step in this journey is to now support freedom to marry, also called marriage equality. There is a lot of awareness of this issue across the country and we've heard from many employees and customers. We gave this thoughtful consideration and felt the time was right to come out in support of this civil rights issue. It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as all other employees. We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees. Again - this decision is consistent with our long-time philosophy of inclusivity and equality for our customers and employees.
Zach Silk, the campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, thanked Nordstrom in a statement:
We are so honored to have one of the most iconic brands in retail across the country support freedom to marry and is yet another Washington-based company that understands the importance of our efforts to approve Referendum 74. Their position on this subject aligns with their commitment to inclusivity - and at the heart of it, freedom to marry is about equality for everyone.
Nordstrom is now the latest of dozens of businesses that have spoken out in support of or offered financial contributions to help uphold the freedom to marry in the state. Last month, telecommunications company T-Mobile, data company EMC Corporation, and travel company Expedia endorsed Referendum 74, and this summer, the law has seen huge financial backing from Amazon's Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steven A. Balmer. Longtime coalition partners for Washington United for Marriage also include Starbucks, Boeing, REI, and Nike.
Small businesses have also devoted considerable time, energy and funding to Washington United for Marriage. Nearly 100 businesses across the state have signed on as coalition partners for WUM, including locally owned bakeries and restaurants, law firms, and the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce. Washington United will continue to expand its outreach to small businesses, an effort it showcased earlier last month with its Small Business Captain program.
These companies realize that standing up for the freedom to marry is the right thing to do to support their employees. It's smart business for businesses to speak up for marriage - and it also promotes a welcoming, accepting environment, encourages stronger communities, and represents positive company ethics. It is important to celebrate when corporations and businesses recognize the harm that laws have on their communities and subsequently take action in hopes of correcting those laws.
Freedom to Marry applauds businesses that have taken steps to advocate for their gay and lesbian employees and make the case for the freedom to marry in a sphere that generally takes a "hands-off" approach to social government policies. We are energized by so many different groups of people from across the country taking the time to consider the importance of the freedom to marry and speaking out after realizing how essential marriage is to same-sex couples.
Read more about the freedom to marry in Washington - and learn about all four states where marriage will be on the ballot in November HERE.