(Asheville, NC) – One would suspect that some existing and potential New Belgium and (presumably) Oskar Blues employees tuned into the media on Tuesday night with special interest.
Issues around same-sex marriages and civil unions took center stage in Colorado, where both breweries have established operations, and North Carolina, where both breweries plan to begin operations in the future. According to the Washington Post, Amendment One in North Carolina sought to “invalidate all civil unions and domestic partnerships, whether ‘opposite-sex’ or ‘same-sex.’” Over 60% of voters said ‘Yes,’ approving the amendment. In Colorado, a bill to allow civil unions for same-sex couples died, according to the New York Times, after lawmakers failed to get the bill heard on the floor.
Though New Belgium has been entrenched in Colorado for over two decades and isn’t going anywhere, a number of people took to the company’s Facebook page to voice concerns over the brewery’s plans to open operations in North Carolina after the vote. The brewery formally responded to those concerns formally this afternoon.
Thanks for everyone’s thoughts on the recent vote on Amendment 1 regarding gay marriage in North Carolina. While that vote in no way reflects the values and ethos of New Belgium Brewing, (we happily extend benefits to same-sex partners), we are not reconsidering building a second facility in Asheville. It has been our experience that the best way to effect change is to work within a system rather than to turn away from it.
The status update received over 1,000 likes within its first hour. One commenter remarked, “I’m gay for New Belgium.”
The decision to take a position on the issue is arguably a bold one for New Belgium, a business with over $150 million in annual revenues. The company already sells beer in North Carolina and plans to open a large brewery in Asheville. Now it’s on record that the company disagrees with the stance that the majority of voters that turned out for the election take.
But New Belgium is not alone in the Tarheel State. Though most North Carolina breweries have chosen to keep quiet on the issue, Fullsteam and Steel String Brewery, a startup slated to open this summer, have voiced ardent support for the LGBT community. Fullsteam has already thrown LGBT-centric events at its brewery. Other members of the brewing community have made their position clear on personal social media accounts.
And New Belgium’s position will only be overshadowed now that President Obama has announced public support for same-sex marriage. He did so in an ABC News interview around the same time as New Belgium’s statement.
If New Belgium does choose to “effect change in its community,” it wouldn’t be a first for the company, one that has taken a leadership role with environmental efforts and sustainability initiatives. As for same-sex equality, the company didn’t tout any past support in its statement and a search for info on its position yielded no results. The company appears to be treading new waters here, at least publicly.
Buncombe County, where New Belgium plans to build, and nearby Transylvania County, where Oskar Blues plans to build, both passed Amendment One with nearly two-thirds of the vote. Henderson County, where California-based Sierra Nevada plans to build, was split 50/50 on the issue.
[Ed. note: Let's try that again...]
Henderson County, where California-based Sierra Nevada plans to build, and nearby Transylvania County, where Oskar Blues plans to build, both passed Amendment One with nearly two-thirds of the vote. Buncombe County, where New Belgium plans to build, was split nearly 50/50 on the issue (full election results).
With all of that said, do you support or disagree with New Belgium’s statement and do you think discussions around human rights issues have a place in the beer community?