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Where Is Apple's Tim Cook on Gay Rights?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Last year, Reuters columnist Felix Salmon, who graciously allows TheStreet to pick up his always smart and thoughtful daily musings, wrote a pair of articles about Apple (AAPL - Get Report) CEO Tim Cook's sexuality.

In the first one -- Don't Ignore Tim Cook's Sexuality -- Salmon made several terrific observations. One of the best came when he chided the media's refusal to discuss the issue:
There's no ethical dilemma when it comes to reporting on Cook's sexuality: rather, the ethical dilemma comes in not reporting it, thereby perpetuating the idea that there's some kind of stigma associated with being gay. Yes, the stigma does still exist in much of society. But it's not the job of the press to perpetuate it. Quite the opposite.

I suppose Salmon had to write the second one -- Why I'm Talking About Tim Cook's Sexuality -- where he took every objection to his decision to write about Cook and turned them, point-by-point, on their collective ear.

On Monday, I wrote an article lauding Starbucks ( SBUX ) CEO Howard Schultz's choice to tell an anti-gay shareholder to, for all intents and purposes, buzz off.

Schultz's move comes several months after Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife gave a couple of million dollars to Washington State's campaign in support of same-sex marriage.

All of this -- and lots of thinking since Salmon's August 2011 articles -- has taken me down several thought paths, including the one illustrated in a pair of Tweets from Monday afternoon:

When Salmon brought up Cook's sexuality, it was the first I had heard of it. I had no idea Cook, at least according to Salmon and other assorted reports, is gay. That, in and of itself, surprised me and only reinforced the points Felix made in the first place. If you're going to tell me something along the lines of It doesn't matter or It's private or why should shareholders care? or haven't we moved on?, all I can do is refer you to Salmon's work. He says it better than I could ever hope to.

Schultz also stated it so well: This is not an economic decision; it's about doing what's right by Starbucks' employees, its customers and humanity. Am I putting words in the guy's mouth? Sort of. But I reckon he's on board with my representation of his bold move.

Like I said in the Tweet, I do not look to Schultz or Bezos to inform my views on social issues. Not anymore than I look to Springsteen to enlighten me sociopolitically or a sports star to play role model for my kid. That said, people with platforms -- whether they asked for it or like it or not -- have a responsibility to use these platforms to do some good. To take a stand.
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