Nordstrom Comes Out in Support of Marriage Equality

The Nordstrom chain of clothing stores has come out in support of Referendum 74 in Washington, which will grant marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples in the state. Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, Inc, Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising and Erik Nordstrom, President of Stores shared their announcement in a company-wide memo.

Nordstrom shared the full text of the email sent to employees with GLAAD:

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

Nordstrom joins many Washington-based companies who have come out in support for marriage equality, including REI, Expedia, Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Nike. In Minnesota, General Mills and Thomson Reuters have come out agains the proposed marriage amendment that would limit the freedom to marry. Carlson Company Chairman, Marilyn Carlson Nelson has been actively campaigning against the amendment. Additionally, GOP Hedge Fund billionaire Paul Singer made a donation to advocate for marriage equality in Maine.

Currently, the latest poll in Washington shows support for Referendum 74 leading by 55% with 40% opposed. 

Nordstrom wished to have their support be known beyond Washington. Their support could have influence in Minnesota, Maine, and Maryland, which are also voting on marriage equality on November 6.

"Nordstrom joins many national brands in supporting marriage for all of their employees and customers," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "It's not only a smart business decision to stand with gay and lesbian couples, but it is a reflection of the majority of Americans who today support marriage equality."

For more information please visit Washington United for Marriage.