Another Big Name Company Supports Marriage Equality in Washington

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com October 11 2012 2:32 PM ET

The latest big company to support marriage equality in Washington is Nordstrom, the national high-end retailer.

The Washington-based company's president, Blake Nordstrom, sent a memo today to employees along with Pete Nordstrom, the president of merchandising, and Erik Nordstrom, president of Stores.

"It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as our other employees," the Nordstroms wrote. "We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees."

They conceded there are "differing opinions" on the issue, as Washington voters head to the polls in November to decide whether to uphold a marriage equality law signed earlier this year.

It is one of many Washington companies to join in supporting the bill, including Microsoft, Starbucks and Nike. Some have faced pushback from the religious right with threatened boycotts as a result.

Read the complete memo to employees, provided via the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, on the following page.

From: Nordstrom, Blake

Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:03 AM

To: Leadership 2012

Subject: Freedom to Marry

October 11, 2012

To all employees:

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 our 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.

We recognize there are differing opinions about freedom to marry. We hope we’ve been clear about why we made this decision. To all of our employees – if you choose to talk about this with each other, please do so respectfully. We want you to be informed about our position so you can also respectfully answer any customer questions that come your way.

Thank you.

Blake, Pete, Erik

Blake Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom, Inc

Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising, Nordstrom

Erik Nordstrom, President of Stores, Nordstrom