Nordstrom backs marriage equality in Washington state

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Nordstrom, Inc., is backing marriage equality in Washington state. - PHOTO: Nordstrom

Nordstrom, Inc. on Oct. 11 became the latest major business to endorse the campaign to retain Washington state’s marriage equality law.

The measure, passed by the legislature earlier this year and signed by the governor, faces a referendum vote on Nov. 6.

In a memo to the company’s employees on the subject of “Freedom to Marry,” president Blake Nordstrom said the company has “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.”

He then reminded employees that the company 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.”

The next step in the journey, Nordstrom continued, is to “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.”

Blake Nordstrom signed the memo, along with merchandising president Pete Nordstrom and stores president Erik Nordstrom.

Other Washington-based companies that have backed marriage equality in the past year include REI, Expedia, Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft and Nike.

GLAAD reported on Oct. 11 that the latest poll in Washington shows voters favoring marriage equality – Referendum 74 – 55-40 percent.