Social justice is at the core of our values. Since our humble beginning 34 years ago, Ben & Jerry's has been an advocate for equal rights. (Did you know we were one of the first companies in the US back in 1993 that widened our health & employment benefits umbrella to recognise unmarried domestic partners regardless of their sexual orientation?)
In 2009 we renamed our legendary flavour Chubby Hubby to 'Hubby Hubby' to celebrate gay marriage legalisation in our home state of Vermont, in the US. This March as the UK government debates whether to legalise same sex marriage, we've partnered with gay rights organisation, Stonewall, to raise awareness about the importance of marriage equality by renaming our Apple Pie flavour, Apple-y Ever After, in Scoop Shops around the country.
If you think that Civil Partnership is the same as marriage, think again! Show your support and help convince members of parliament that it's time to say 'I do' to same sex marriage!
You can help support this campaign by "marrying" someone of the same sex through our Facebook App or by writing to your MP using this template. (Because everyone is equal and deserves to live Apple-y Ever After!)
If you are interested in taking part in the Home Offices 'Equal Civil Marriage Consultation', click here.
Lend your voice to the cause my writing to your local member of parliament! We have made this handy template below for you, simply copy and paste into and email, and send to your local MP to express your support for marriage equality!
House of Commons,
Dear [MP Name],
I am writing to you with regard to the government consultation on same sex marriage. This is an issue I feel strongly about, as the inequality within our current marriage law is clear discrimination against the gay community. I believe marriage should be equal, with all those who wish to marry their partner, able to do so. It is therefore paramount that the government amend the marriage law in order to reflect equal access to marriage.
The current consultation on the issue is an opportunity to finally bring our marriage laws up to date with the society which we live in, and I urge you to raise the concerns of your constituents with the committee.
[Your Name & contact details]
Why is Ben & Jerry's now taking a stand on this particular issue?
From the beginning of the company's 34-year-history, Ben & Jerry's has supported equal rights for all people. Now, as the UK government debate the legalization of marriage for gay and lesbian couples, we thought that symbolically renaming 'Oh My Apple Pie' to 'Apple-y Ever After' flavour would be a good way to show our support for marriage equality as well as aligning with our companies values.
Will "Apple-y Ever After" be available as an actual pint?
"Apple-y Ever After" will be symbolically launched to raise awareness for this issue and will not be an actual pint, but only available in selected scoop shops.
What is Ben & Jerry's take on people who may oppose this campaign based on their religious beliefs?
Ben & Jerry's is a company that believes in social justice. As part of that belief, we support equal rights for all people, including the freedom for all men and women to marry whom they love. We support this effort.
What is your response to those who think this legislation will damage the meaning and importance of marriage?
We define marriage as love and commitment between two people, yet the current marriage legislation openly discriminates against same-sex relationships. This weakens the meaning of the legislation, as it no longer reflects society, and what society considers marriage. A more cohesive society can only be formed when the laws truly reflect the people they govern.
What is your opinion on whether this is an issue the government should be dealing with?
Those that feel that this is not an issue for the government are misinformed. As a matter of the state, it is in the government's interests to ensure the marriage legislation remains appropriate within the parameters of British society. This includes opening the law of marriage to those in society that are excluded from the privilege of marriage.
What if same sex marriage affects churches or other religions?
The legislation will have no affect on religious marriages, religious institutions or the church in any way. No place of worship of any religion would be forced to conduct same sex marriages in their premises, and there is no legal obligation to recognise same sex marriage within the context of their religious beliefs. This highlights that in the UK legally marriage is an issue of the state, and not of any religion.
The legal relationship of same sex partners can be recognised by the state through a civil partnership. What is the need to legalise same sex marriage?
Although many people treasure their civil partnerships as a way to express their love for each other, the fact that same-sex relationships are treated differently by the state suggests they're not as important as straight relationships. We strongly feel that we should not deny gay people the right to have a husband or wife, or to express their love for each other in the same way as their straight friends and family. Equal marriage would mean same sex couples would not be segregated by a separate law, and could therefore formally celebrate their union as any heterosexual couple would.
Are Ben & Jerry's encouraging the gay community to buy their products?
We neither condemn nor condone the sexual orientation of any of our customers. What we find unacceptable is that there is legislation in the UK which is being used as a means of enforcing a concept of morality on people, at a great expense to those people. The campaign is about raising awareness of marriage equality in the UK, and does not seek to encourage customers to buy a particular product.
Do you think that people who do not believe in the right to marry for all, will boycott the company?
Throughout our history, we have supported issues that not everyone has agreed with. As a company that champions equality and social justice, we do what we feel is the right thing to do. We hope people will continue to support us, even if they don't necessarily agree with a particular issue. In this case, the issue of equal rights is something we believe in and will continue to support.
What if you lose loyal customers as a result of this campaign?
We respect consumer choice as a means of supporting companies whose business and social agenda they are comfortable with. Ben & Jerry's support for social justice has been documented throughout our history, and this is another important cause that we will be supporting.
Do you believe an ice cream company should be getting involved in this debate?
We have a long history of taking a stand when it comes to social justice and civil rights. So, from that standpoint, we are proud to support the efforts of an organization like Stonewall and the issue of marriage equality.
Will you be providing funding for "marriage rights" groups and organisations such as Stonewall?
We would like to support organisations such as Stonewall in a number of ways. One of the most important ways we feel we can help is to use our brand's loyal base of consumers to help raise awareness of a particular cause or issue.
Is Ben & Jerry's in this fight for the long haul?
We hope that the partnership we are keen to develop with Stonewall will last as long as it's needed. The UK government consultation is an important step towards legalising same-sex marriage, and we hope our campaign will encourage the government to continue its agenda on marriage equality.