Valentine’s Day is the time to show love for those who matter most to you. For Levi Strauss & Co., the fight for freedom and equality to love has been a cause we’ve been committed to for decades, and demonstrates our company-wide commitment to empathy, freedom, courage, and global human rights.
The issue of marriage equality has undergone nothing short of a revolution in recent years. There’s still much work to be done, but public opinion has shifted toward acceptance, with more than 30 U.S. states now legally recognizing same sex marriage. A Gallup poll conducted in 2014 showed a record high of 55% of the American people supporting legal recognition for same-sex spouses.
Much of our ongoing advocacy effort today is focused on supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This legislation, proposed in the United States Congress, would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees.
In recent years, the legal battle over marriage equality has come center stage, and LS&Co. has continued to join the fight. In 2007, we were the only California business to file an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage, outlining the economic advantages of allowing same-sex couples to wed. And in 2013, we joined a broad coalition of supporters urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Beyond legal action, LS&Co. has also shown support for the cause through visibility and influence in our retail locations. Following the Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8—which banned gay marriage in the California—Levi’s marked opposition to the ruling by clothing mannequins with a white ribbon tied in a knot—a symbol of solidarity with the marriage equality movement.
During pride month in 2014, Levi’s issued a rainbow-themed collection celebrating three decades of company support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), which included rainbow logos and batwing patches.
And over the years, LS&Co. has also partnered on an ongoing basis with the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil right organization working towards LGBT equality. With HRC, we created special window displays during the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign and released custom-designed T-shirts proclaiming our support of the pioneering organization.
While we’re proud to be part of the movement, the fight continues. This April, the Supreme Court will hear four cases concerning marriage restrictions in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. The Supreme Court’s ruling will likely make a definitive decision on whether all states must allow same-sex couples to marry and whether they must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who marry in other states. Until we all receive the same benefits and rights—no matter whom we love—marriage equality is a cause for which LS&Co. will continue to take a stand.