email to LL Bean in Maine regarding Prop1

16Nov09

Soon after the rights for gays were taken away in Maine as a result of Prop 1, I received an LL Bean catalog in the mail as we have purchased  from them in the past. I made a conscious decision to not support businesses like LL Bean in Maine and wrote an email asking to be removed from their mailing list in which I gave my reasons for doing so regarding Prop 1. I received an email response from Carolyn Beem who is the manager of Public Affairs at LL Bean. It was a form letter which I can tell from the different font used in my name and her signature but I didn’t actually expect  anything different being they are a larger company and am sure came out with an immediate PR response for any backslashing on their company. Below is the email I received from Carolyn and below that is my response which I believe makes my point that these are not times to sit idly by and claim to be neutral – pick a damn side and fight for it.

EMAIL FROM LL BEAN:

Dear Ms. X,

With the recent decision of voters to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law, there has been a fair amount of attention focused on Maine and Maine businesses.

L.L.Bean has been mentioned as an opponent of same-sex marriage in Maine and as a contributor to the referendum.  For the record, L.L.Bean took no position on this question, nor have any of the owners of the business contributed funds to opposition to same sex-marriage.

L.L.Bean does not take positions on social policy issues.  In our view, those are matters to be decided by elected officials and individual voters.

Our responsibility rests in how we govern our own workplace.  L.L.Bean has had a policy for many years of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and has a policy extending employment benefits to domestic partners.  We believe in an inclusive workplace and have backed up those views with company policy.

This is an important social policy question here in Maine and nationally. We understand there are strongly held views on the subject. We simply want the facts around L.L.Bean’s views and involvement in this issue to be understood by our customers and stakeholders.

As requested, we have removed your name from our mailing list.  We are sorry to lose you as a valued customer.  It may take a short time for your mailings to cease as our catalog printers work well in advance.  Thank you for your patience.  Should you change your mind, we would be honored to be of service to you in the future.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Beem

Manager, Public Affairs

———————————————————————————————

MY RESPONSE TO LL BEAN:

Thanks for your email response. I understand your position as a business but also feel that if your company feels strongly enough about equal rights to offer domestic partner benefits within the company than they should also stand up for these rights when it affects the citizens of Maine and ultimately all gay Americans. Not taking a public stance on this issue is the same thing as doing nothing and thus being a part of this happening in Maine. Would the outcome have been different if LL Bean took a stance and spoke out for state recognized equal rights for their employees and customers? I do understand wanting to remain neutral for business reasons but this is how things change or don’t change in history – when people or organizations have the power to make a difference but don’t act. By not participating or taking a public stance you ultimately sided with the ones who made the proposal and that is sad. Shame on LL Bean for not standing up.

______________________________________________________________________

see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

According to Wikipedia: In the western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.

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