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
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.