Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tempest brews over quotes on Starbucks cups

August 30, 2005

By Lornet Turnbull
Seattle Times staff reporter

Starbucks says it was hoping to inspire old-fashioned coffee-house conversations when it introduced a campaign this year featuring the words of notable Americans on its coffee cups.

But at least a few of those words are sparking more discord than discussion.

A national Christian women's organization is accusing the Seattle-based coffee maker of promoting a homosexual agenda because of a quote by author Armistead Maupin, whose "Tales of the City" chronicled San Francisco's homosexual community in the 1970s and 1980s.

Maupin's quote — one of several dozen in "The Way I See It" promotion — says his only regret about being gay is that he repressed it for so long.

"I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short."

Concerned Women for America, which promotes itself as the antithesis of the National Organization for Women and boasts 8,700 supporters in Washington, says most of those quoted on the coffee cups are liberal.

The group believes corporations have a responsibility to reflect the diversity of their customers by taking a balanced approach — or staying out of divisive social issues altogether.

And while the group is not calling for a boycott, its position nonetheless raises questions about what role — if any — corporations should take on potentially sensitive matters, especially at a time when the nation is divided, largely along religious lines, on issues such as gay rights.