Here we go again. Another business that wants to usurp the rights and beliefs of others (employees and customers, alike) in favor of touting their own dogma. In this case, Hobby Lobby has chosen — once again — to alienate and discriminate against people who don’t think like them.
The latest kerfuffle stems from an experience some Jewish shoppers had at a New Jersey store. The shoppers were looking for Hanukkah items, amongst the many Christmas items, and could find none. When they asked about Hanukkah-themed cards and merchandise, the response they got was deeply offensive:
The Hobby Lobby Hanukkah controversy began when Berwitz learned that on a recent shopping trip his wife’s friends could not find anything related to Hanukkah at their local Hobby Lobby store in Marlboro, N.J., though it was stocked with Christmas items.
According to Berwitz, one of the women asked about bar mitzvah cards, and a Hobby Lobby salesperson replied: “We don’t cater to you people.”
This is just the latest in a long line of bigoted practices, which its owner David Green excuses himself of by claiming that the store’s practices are defended by Christianity. These include transphobic policies in which a transgender person was denied access to their preferred bathroom and faced termination for violating the rules. And of course, their lawsuit against Obamacare because they want a religious exemption to cover women’s health care, including birth control.
While the health care lawsuit may end up at the Supreme Court and there is a lawsuit pending regarding the transgender person’s bathroom experience, there is little legal recourse for much of what Green does as a business owner. We can’t stop him from holding up his religion above that of others (or those who are not religious at all). We can’t force him to accept the equality of all people — including the dignity of same-sex marriage.
What we can do is vote with our dollars. As consumers, we have power in our choices of where we shop and why. We can choose to patronize “low cost” businesses like Walmart — even though they have an equally terrible history of bigotry, sexism, and anti-LGBT practices. We can shrug our shoulders and claim it’s “no big deal” when restaurants like Chik-fil-A donate more $2 million to anti-LGBT groups in recent years. Or, we can stand up for our own values — just as Green and his ilk say they are doing. There are plenty of places to shop and eat. I don’t have to give a dime to those companies that are in opposition to my values.
And while I’m at it, I’ll be sure to reward companies that not only provide goods and services I’m looking for, but at the very least do not clash with my values of equality for all. Furthermore, I am disgusted by Green’s corruption of the Christian faith — my faith.
Here’s a list of 11 such businesses via PolicyMic:
- Amazon.com: Last July, CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife contributed $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, an organization dedicated to defending Washington State’s marriage equality law.
- Microsoft: Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer each donated $100,000 to Washington United for Marriage — prompted by Bezos’ act. (Indeed, one of the company’s first five employees, Ric Weiland, was gay.)
- Starbucks: The company came out in favor of marriage equality in 2012.
- General Mills: Last year the company hosted an event for LGBT professionals, in which the company leadership spoke out against a proposal to codify Minnesota’s same-sex marriage ban into their state constitution.
- JC Penney: The company has faced back-lash for featuring LGBT families in its ads and for selecting Ellen DeGeneres as their spokeswoman last year. But they have stayed committed to pro-equality branding.
- Macy’s: The company has endorsed same-sex marriage rights with ads in both Washington and California.
- Levi’s: The company has had a history of supporting LGBT rights, including partnerships with causes and the movie Milk, about Harvey Milk. They also did a campaign with their mannequins in key cities, showing support for same-sex marriage.
- Apple: One of the first companies to support LGBT rights, they donated to the NOH8 campaign against California’s Prop 8.
- Google: They have been opponents of Prop 8 as well as launching multiple campaigns in support of same-sex marriage.
- The Home Depot: The Human Rights Campaign ranks them as one of the best companies in the nation regarding LGBT benefits and policies. And they have not backed down, despite pressure from anti-gay groups.
- Viacom: The company signed onto an amicus brief decrying the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
And here’s a list from Forbes of the 10 best businesses for women:
- General Mills
- Johnson & Johnson
- Marriott International
- Procter & Gamble
- Prudential Financial
- State Farm