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Nordstrom announces its support for same-sex marriage

Thursday, October 11, 2012
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In an email to it 56,000 employees, Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom on Thursday announced its support for marriage equality, and the Washington state ballot initiative, Referendum 74, that would legalize same-sex marriage.

An internal email signed by Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, Inc, Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising and Erik Nordstrom, President of Stores said that the company has “long had a philosophical approach to our business to be inclusive,” and noted that the company was an early adopter of adding sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy and has offered life partner benefits to employees since 1998:

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 all 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

“We are so honored to have one of the most iconic brands in retail across the country support freedom to marry and is yet another Washington-based company that understands the importance of our efforts to approve Referendum 74,” said Zach Silk, Campaign Manager for Washington United for Marriage (WUM), the broad coalition working to defend the state’s marriage equality law.

“Their position on this subject aligns with their commitment to inclusivity – and at the heart of it, freedom to marry is about equality for everyone,” said Silk.

Nordstrom has annual sales of $10.5 billion, and serves customers through Nordstrom stores, Nordstrom.com, Nordstrom Rack and HauteLook. The company, which is publicly traded, has been on Fortune’s Best Companies To Work For list for 15 years since its inception.

Nordstrom joins an illustrious group of companies that have come out in support of freedom to marry, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Starbucks, REI, Alcoa, EMC and Vulcan.

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