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Ben & Jerry's Tries to Fight for LGBT Rights with Strange Ice Cream Rule

Australia won't legalize same-sex marriage, so Ben & Jerry's won't fill certain ice cream orders.

by Jelisa Castrodale
May 27 2017, 7:00pm

Photo by Flickr user m01229

After 39 delicious years in business, dozens of flavors, and countless press releases, Ben & Jerry's may as well be known for its outspoken activism as it is for its pints of Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. And, this week, the Vermont-based ice cream purveyor is speaking out against Australia's unwillingness to legalize same-sex marriage, and its protest involves a countrywide ban on same-scoop servings.

"Imagine heading down to your local Scoop Shop to order your favorite two scoops of Cookie Dough in a waffle cone. But you find out you are not allowed—Ben & Jerry's has banned two scoops of the same flavor," the company said in a statement. "You'd be furious! [...] But this doesn't even begin to compare to how furious you would be if you were told you were not allowed to marry the person you love."

So yeah, if you're in Melbourne or Maribyrnong or Chadstone and hoped to kick off the weekend with two scoops of Candy Bar Pie, you're out of luck. From now until June 9, there are no same-scoop servings at any of Ben & Jerry's 26 locations in Australia, a questionable-if-well-meaning protest that has certainly captured attention and raised awareness for the country's Equality Campaign.

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Ben & Jerry's has also placed rainbow-topped postal boxes in each of its Australian shops, allowing (and encouraging) customers to more easily contact their local parliamentary representatives. The company promises that it will personally deliver all of those handwritten letters to the Australian Parliament before its next session on June 13.

An estimated 72 percent of Australians support marriage equality, but in November, its Senate rejected the idea of holding a national vote on the issue. It said that Parliament was perfectly capable of making the decision itself, although it has yet to do so. And that might be what prompted Ben & Jerry's to do something. Even though its approach might seem silly or trivial, it added fuel to a dialogue that had been stagnating, and has reminded Australians that this inequality is still unresolved (even after two of its neighbors, New Zealand and Taiwan, have already taken the steps to legalize same-sex marriages).

Currently, same-sex couples can have civil unions or "registered relationships," although they are not recognized as legal marriages.

Ben & Jerry's has previously launched campaigns encouraging support for marriage equality in Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand, but the same-scoop ban is a new approach.

In 2015, Ben & Jerry's commemorated the United States Supreme Court's ruling in favor of marriage equality by renaming its chocolate chip cookie dough flavor to "I Dough, I Dough," complete with two top hat-wearing cows on the label. And when its home state of Vermont legalized same sex marriage, it took a similar approach, temporarily renaming Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby.

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Ben & Jerry's has always been a proud supporter of LGBT rights; it was the first company in Vermont to offer full benefits to same sex couples, and that was way back in 1989. LGBT Equality is one of the nine ideas listed on the "Issues We Care About" section of its website, along with racial justice, democracy, and climate justice.