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Gay Activists' 'National Marriage Equality Day' at Starbucks Has Low Turnout


Following the massive hoopla surrounding fast-food chain Chick-fil-A over its gay marriage stance last week, pro-same-sex marriage activists hoped to show support for Starbucks, a company that has come out in favor of gay rights. But, unfortunately for those organizing the "National Marriage Equality Day" on Tuesday, turnout was relatively low -- at least when compared to the number of Americans who came out to laud Chick-fil-A just days earlier.

Prior to the event, The Christian Post explained the intentions behind the initiative:

Gay marriage activists and their supporters plan to consume more than their daily allowance of caffeine on Tuesday by visiting their local Starbucks in an effort to challenge last week's "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" that was staged by pro-family supporters to demonstrate their support for the company's stance on traditional marriage.

Tuesday's event is being dubbed as "National Marriage Equality Day" and Starbucks was chosen because they offer benefits to the partners of same-sex relationships.

Leading up to "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" last Wednesday, an effort organized by Mike Huckabee, more than 585,000 people were registered to attend and show support for the restaurant chain, which opposes gay marriage. Much like activists' counter "kiss-in" event that intended to rail against Chick-fil-A's anti-gay marriage sentiment, the Starbucks event experienced a much lower attendance.

This morning, one day after the pro-gay marriage event was held, the Facebook event page shows that only 37,802 people planned to attend. And the fan page for the "National Marriage Equality Day" has only 970 "likes." Of course, this dearth in attendance, especially when compared with the Chick-fil-A protest, can be potentially chalked up to a number of factors (and consider that we're basing actual turnout here upon the number of people who pledged social media support).

To begin, intense controversy led to demonstrations and shows of support surrounding the Chick-fil-A incident. This, of course, came with a great deal of media coverage. As a result of constant chatter about the drama surrounding the debate, people became educated about the issue. The Starbucks event, on the other hand, didn't receive as much attention and, thus, fewer people were likely aware that it was happening in the first place.

Also, the group behind the latest initiative -- Equally Wed, a wedding magazine -- ended up expanding the cause and encouraging people to embrace other gay-friendly brands in addition to Starbucks. This may have had an effect in dissuading people from going to the coffee chain, while encouraging them to embrace other businesses and causes that were more difficult to track. The New York Daily News has more: was originally announced as “Starbucks Appreciation Day,” but organizers said the company asked that other corporate supporters of gay marriage, such as Nike and Amazon, be included as well.

The event page includes a long list of “brands that support LGBT rights” to support –Absolut Vodka, Google, Disney, Target and Southwest Airlines are among them – and had nearly 35,000 people promising to take part as of Tuesday afternoon.

In the end, while turnout was low, grassroots movements have a way of growing, especially when it comes to issues that some view as being rooted in "civil rights."  The magazine's Facebook page is currently accepting photos from the day for a special contest it is running among participants. There's no telling if and when another "Starbucks Appreciation Day" could be in the works.

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