By Zack Jenkins
This week, Kent based Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) joined Nike, Amazon, Starbucks, Google and Microsoft by officially supporting Referendum 74, an initiative that would re-instate the law passed earlier in the year to legalize same-sex marriage. The referendum is up for vote in November.
As one of the largest outdoors recreation chains in America and among the largest adventure co-ops in the western hemisphere (with over 10 million members) REI is yet another company to choose a side in the gay marriage debate.
President and CEO Sally Jewell announced in a blog post that, “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.”
Jewell continued, “Marriage equality is important to the co-op because the benefits, legal clarity and social understanding that [my husband]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.”
REI has retail stores in 31 states and totals over $1.4 billion in sales each year. It has been consistently voted as one of the top 100 Companies to Work For by Fortune Magazine, ranking #8 in 2011.
Kevin Summers, a gay Washington resident and avid backpacker finishing a three-week excursion across Oregon, said he wanted “more niche companies like REI to take a stand.” After listing the gear he bought at REI (boots, pack, pants and hiking poles) he said, “It won’t drive away their main customer base in areas that encourage participation and community.”
If voters approve R-74 in November, Washington will become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.