Social change transpires at a blistering pace, in both promising and discouraging trajectories. After growing up in isolation in South Dakota and cutting my teeth decades ago as an LGBTQ human rights activist, I’m gob-smacked and elated by today’s Supreme Court decision.
This decision is historic for what it accomplished: it righted a wrong. It’s also momentous for what it represents. Empathy. Courage. Equality. Progress.
These are some of the very same qualities that give Levi Strauss & Co. purpose as a company – and these guide our social change investments through the Levi Strauss Foundation. They fuel our drive to make a positive difference in the world and our desire to push the frontiers of possibility.
Throughout our history, we’ve been compelled to take a stand on the important issues of our time. We’ve been an advocate and an ally for our society’s marginalized groups — including the LGBT community — even when it wasn’t the easiest, or most popular, course.
- 1982: Perhaps the first company to respond to HIV/AIDS – when this mysterious but deadly virus was known as “Gay Related Immune Deficiency” due to stigma – through employee support and education. One year later, the Levi Strauss Foundation gave the first grant in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS – and 32 years later, we continue to support human rights advocacy to end this global epidemic.
- 1992: First Fortune 500 company to extend health benefits to unmarried domestic partners.
- 2007: 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.
- 2014: Levi’s® issued a rainbow-themed collection celebrating three decades of company support for LGBT rights.
- 2015: Joined 378 other employers and employer organizations to sign an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court outlining the disadvantages of a fractured legal landscape with no uniform rule on same-sex marriage, providing the business case in support of marriage equality across the United States.
We’re proud to have played a modest role in supporting today’s landmark ruling. And we know by being first and taking a stand for justice, we’ve ruffled feathers and created tension along the way. But this tension makes us stronger.
There remains much work to be done to eliminate discrimination and ensure equal rights for all, but for now, we pause and celebrate progress. Today we salute the modern day pioneers across the country – along with our peers in the apparel industry – whose courage, persistence and innovation have heralded this watershed moment.