Thumbs-up: It’s rare when chief executive officers, or high-profile retailers for that matter, take a stand on a political or social issue, but that’s exactly what Jeff Gennette, the chairman and CEO of Macy’s Inc., did Wednesday with a post on LinkedIn.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, thereby giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages and prohibiting states from denying the validity of out-of-state marriage based on sex, race or ethnicity. For the bill to go into law it must pass through the Assembly and then get signed by President Biden, both of which are expected to happen.
“My husband and I are heartened by the Senate’s bipartisan approval of the Respect for Marriage Act and we’re grateful for the work of the Human Rights Campaign and others to protect the rights and privileges of millions so every one is equal in the eyes of the law,” Gennette wrote on LinkedIn. His post triggered a flurry of responses from industry executives and others on LinkedIn, expressing support for Gennette and his leadership and openness on the subject.
The Senate passage had Republican backers, and there were concessions, among them that religious organizations don’t need to accommodate same-sex marriages with their services, and wouldn’t lose tax exemption status if they didn’t.
President Biden said in a statement that the passage of bill affirmed what he called “a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”
Gennette is one of the few openly gay CEOs of a Fortune 500 company and has been an openly gay executive since 1983. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising three years ago, he told WWD: “I made a decision early in my career to be myself, openly gay, and while it was scary at first, I have never looked back. Bringing your whole authentic self to work gives others permission to be themselves and there is power in that authenticity. It takes down barriers. It builds trust. And trust is the essential ingredient in a productive work relationship. My success has been based on the teams I’ve built and the results we’ve delivered.”
In March 2022, Macy’s went on the record opposing the actions of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a public letter and advertisement in the Dallas Morning News, calling on public leaders in Texas and across the country “to abandon efforts to write discrimination into law and policy.”
In 2020, Macy’s signed on to HRC’s Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ state legislation. HRC has deployed that letter in Texas and other states.
In 2019, Macy’s Inc. joined an HRC amicus brief filed in the Bostock v. Clayton County case in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to hold that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes sexual orientation as a classification protected under that law.