Sporting and camping goods company REI is the latest corporation to endorse marriage equality in Washington state. REI president Sally Jewell explained the decision:
JEWELL: REI is taking a position in support of marriage equality — an issue that is important to the co-op as an inclusive organization and a welcoming place to work and do business. A referendum on this issue will come before Washington State voters in November after passage through the Washington State Legislature earlier this year; marriage equality is also gaining momentum nationally. Why is this important to the co-op? Let me begin my answer with a personal perspective. A few weeks ago, my husband Warren and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. We’ve been on a journey through life together since our first date on my 18th birthday, raising our two children, changing jobs, moving to various places, and witnessing the challenges and joys of our relationship and those of our parents, three of them through end-of-life.
For heterosexual couples, it is very easy to take for granted the legal and societal benefits of marriage— health care benefits, retirement benefits, insurance, death benefits, healthcare decisions, child-rearing and custody, and many more, not to mention the meaning of the commitment of marriage that was so vivid to us as we introduced each other as husband or wife for the first time. As executrix of my mother’s estate, the legal benefits of marriage in estate and health issues became even clearer to me over the past year. Marriage equality is important to the co-op because the benefits, legal clarity and societal understanding that Warren and I have enjoyed these past 34 years should be available to any two people who want to express their love and make a permanent commitment to each other that is so clearly provided for in the legal definition of marriage.
Jewell added, “I want to ensure that our colleagues and customers who have beliefs that run counter to the position the co-op is taking on this issue feel respected in their right to disagree.” REI joins other Washington-based companies in supporting Referendum 74, including Amazon.com, Starbucks, Microsoft, Vulcan, and Nike.