Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kmart exec resigns to join California marriage fight - Washington Blade

Kmart exec resigns to join California marriage fight - Washington Blade

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Leaves behind six-figure salary to take volunteer position
By CHRIS JOHNSON, Washington Blade | Jun 25, 1:12 PM

The openly gay chief marketing officer for Kmart is about to embark on a new role that will drastically change his standard of living.

Bill Stewart recently resigned from his executive position at Sears Holdings, where he earned a six-figure salary and had stock options and opportunities for bonuses. He is also giving up his vintage apartment in Chicago worth $1 million to live in an efficiency apartment in San Francisco.

Stewart jokes that the change means he’s “going to fall off the good customer list at Louis Vuitton and Gucci.”

What’s his reason for making this transition?

Stewart has signed on to work as an unpaid volunteer with the Equality for All campaign to help defeat a state constitutional amendment on the California ballot this November that would ban same-sex marriage. If voters approve this measure, same-sex weddings would no longer be performed in California and marriages that have already occurred would be in legal jeopardy.

Stewart, 45, told the Blade in a Tuesday interview that he took on his new role to ensure that the recent California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage remains in effect.

“I think it’s incredibly important for the equal rights movement for gays and lesbians that California send a message to the rest of the country that we ought to be allowed to marry,” he said.

Stewart made the decision to change careers after attending a Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) national board meeting in Los Angeles earlier this month. He realized “somebody’s going to be making history” one way or another with the November amendment and he decided to devote his efforts to making sure that history decides in favor of same-sex marriage.

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