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Outdoor Retailer REI Offers Strong Endorsement of Marriage Equality

Outdoor retailer REI's CEO and President Sally Jewell strongly endorsed marriage equality in a letter to employees, Washington United for Marriage reports.

ReiSaid Jewell in the blog post:

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.

Jewell continued by telling employees about her own marriage and the importance of not taking for granted the rights and benefits that marriage affords.

JewellShe adds:

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.

When I joined REI in 2000, I realized what it was like to work in a place that was inclusive of people without regard to their sexual orientation. This was not the case early in my career as an engineer, nor in the 19 years I spent in banking.  In those years, I witnessed the challenge that my colleagues experienced—where seemingly simple questions about relationships, children, or even weekend activities could become delicate and difficult to answer, because being “out” was dangerous to one’s career.

I am proud of the inclusive environment that REI creates for our LGBT teammates and customers, and recognize that this is a continuing journey for all of us as we strive to be increasingly inclusive across all of the dimensions of diversity.

Read Jewell's full post, AFTER THE JUMP...

Sally Jewell’s blog post to REI employees

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.

When I joined REI in 2000, I realized what it was like to work in a place that was inclusive of people without regard to their sexual orientation. This was not the case early in my career as an engineer, nor in the 19 years I spent in banking.  In those years, I witnessed the challenge that my colleagues experienced—where seemingly simple questions about relationships, children, or even weekend activities could become delicate and difficult to answer, because being “out” was dangerous to one’s career.

I am proud of the inclusive environment that REI creates for our LGBT teammates and customers, and recognize that this is a continuing journey for all of us as we strive to be increasingly inclusive across all of the dimensions of diversity. The investment we have made in inclusion training across the organization is an important step in this journey.

The Board, Leadership Forum and I are committed to ensuring that we continue to create an environment where people can be themselves and feel welcome at REI, including respecting religious and political diversity. 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. My own journey in understanding and coming to this position on marriage equality has been shaped by thoughtful, heartfelt discussions with people who have held a variety of differing perspectives.  I encourage you to engage each other in a discussion, practicing our core value of respect—“we listen to and learn from each other.”

Sixteen years from now, when I expect to be celebrating my 50th wedding anniversary, I sincerely hope that there will be millions more of a new generation for whom 50 years of marriage will become a possibility through these changes in our legal system.

I invite your reflections and thoughts on this blog post.

Warmly,
Sally

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Comments

  1. I've always loved REI, but now, I love them even more. Nice job!

    Posted by: zeddy | Aug 14, 2012 3:28:01 PM


  2. I guess I can drag my butt to their slightly overpriced store and pick up new equipment. If only I could find my member's distribution.

    Posted by: Mike B. | Aug 14, 2012 3:31:29 PM


  3. Love hearing good news like this. REI is a very cool store, I want an REI T-shirt now.

    Posted by: ty | Aug 14, 2012 3:36:49 PM


  4. And in light of Anderson Cooper all bets are off on gay marriage. Towle is being respectful. A rich, attractive, gay media personality, reporter of hard news needs to be protected The double standard almost warrants a call to Ann Coulter. Towlefacade knows who their friends are. My sympathy to Anderson.

    Posted by: Josh | Aug 14, 2012 3:41:33 PM


  5. And in light of Anderson Cooper all bets are off on gay marriage. Towle is being respectful. A rich, attractive, gay media personality, reporter of hard news needs to be protected The double standard almost warrants a call to Ann Coulter. Towlefacade knows who their friends are. My sympathy to Anderson.

    Posted by: Josh | Aug 14, 2012 3:41:34 PM


  6. Shoo, troll!

    And the gays get a fitness outfitter, while the homophobes get a fried chicken outlet.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Aug 14, 2012 3:45:55 PM


  7. THANKS REI!

    Most importantly, and something you rarely see, this woman understands and clearly articulates the benefits of CIVIL MARRIAGE.

    "God's word" etc. etc. is irrelevant, as is procreation -- just getting married provides thousands of benefits at the Federal and State levels.

    She also understands how straight people take their "sexuality" for granted every day. Very insightful statement. Well done and THANKS AGAIN.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Aug 14, 2012 3:48:35 PM


  8. It is very refreshing to see someone who gets it - even many of our straight allies do not entirely understand why we work so hard for marriage. To them its just a word - but to us and people like Sally Jewell it is more than that.

    Posted by: KT | Aug 14, 2012 4:41:15 PM


  9. Awesome, I have one of these right across the street from where I live. I will have to shift some business there. They are a bit pricey, but the depth of their product lines is nearly unmatched and they have excellent customer service policies.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Aug 14, 2012 5:06:31 PM


  10. I've always loved REI's "vibe" and now I like it even more. They finally opened a store in Manhattan last Autumn and I get a kick every time I go in--great people, great service, great merchandise - it's just fun going there. now it's even better.

    AS for Josh's absurd posting about "all bets being off "because AC's man messed around with another man--WHAT THE DEVIL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Sometimes I think the haters in our own household are far more dangerous than any evangelical closet-case.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Aug 14, 2012 6:51:03 PM


  11. Oh, sorry. I thought that was a photo of Sam Waterston.

    Posted by: Al | Aug 14, 2012 6:54:11 PM


  12. @AL: LOL! I thought the same thing!!

    Posted by: Jason 2 | Aug 14, 2012 8:23:18 PM


  13. Awesome. I'm seriously considering moving back to WA in a year or two. Marriage equality would probably seal the decision. I've been to an REIs once and it was like outdoor Toys R Us. Good times.

    Posted by: daws | Aug 14, 2012 8:29:02 PM


  14. I never heard of REI.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 15, 2012 2:46:59 AM


  15. That was beautiful... she articulated the argument perfectly. Thank you, Sally Jewell - another great straight ally. REI is getting a spot on my go-to list.

    Posted by: John | Aug 15, 2012 9:08:55 AM


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