Spending for Equality – A New Year’s Resolution to Keep

By |2018-01-16T08:17:58-05:00January 12th, 2006|Opinions|

As far back as I can remember I have been bombarded with images supporting the old adage that “Money Talks.” From the recurring movie scene where the maitre d’ is slipped a ten spot for upgraded seating to the almost daily revelations that yet another politician or corporation is under investigation for bribery, it is the same message: “money is power.”
Being a child of the sixties, of course, I believed in the evils of capitalism, the inherent good of humanity and in that nation Dr. King dreamed of where each of us would not be judged by the color of our skin, whom we love or the size of our bank account, but by the content of our character.
But as each decade has passed my faith in this dream has been shaken by visions of materialism, selfishness, greed and corruption. Needless to say, by 2004 my rose colored glasses had been replaced by dark tinted “shades” to protect my sensibilities from the harsh reality of a promise gone astray.
Throughout 2004 I saw city after city and state after state pass anti-gay legislation. The far right had learned the lesson – money was power. They had amassed a war chest of over $250 million to push their agenda. While our gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual community and our allies had only a fifth of that, $50 million, to fight back.
Many who could have spoken up remained silent. Everyone said diversity was good for America but the companies where LGBT Americans work, the businesses where we spend our money and the same municipalities and states that collect our tax dollars were for the most part quiet.
Although 2004 ended on a down note, 2005 showed that we may have been down but not out. The far right may have won the battle of 2004 but the war for equality is hardly over.
After nine years of boycotting Disney for offering domestic partner benefits to employees and welcoming LGBT families, the American Family Association tucked its tail between its legs and conceded defeat. Of course they reared their ugly heads to call for a boycott of Ford and announced victory. Their celebration, fortunately, was short-lived when Ford reinstated and expanded its commitment to the LGBT community.
The Human Rights Campaign published its fourth annual Corporate Equality Index showing an increase of 80 percent in one year of companies scoring 100 percent, many of which now have transgender anti-discrimination protections. Then, just in time for Holiday shopping, HRC published its “Buying for Equality Guide.”
Well break out those rose colored glasses, a ray of hope from all places – the bowels of capitalism. We are making progress in corporate America, but just imagine how much more we could attain if corporate America really got on board with us.
It could happen if we all do our part.
So here are my 2006 New Year’s resolutions
* I will not go to bed with my gas tank on fumes. This way I can avoid the temptation of patronizing the very convenient Exxon Mobil station on the corner and not end up pushing my car to the BP station down the way.
* I will “out” my gay dollars shopping at businesses large and small that support equality. That HRC buyers guide is coming in handy here. Not only will I introduce myself as an out and proud lesbian but I will also thank them and ask that they put LGBT welcoming decals (equality symbol or rainbow) in their shop window.
* Finally I will curb my indulgences. I have been guilty of impulse shopping, retail therapy, call it what you want, but the result has been an abundance of stuff cluttering my house, and let’s not even talk about those extra inches on the hips. Instead of buying stuff, I can make a financial commitment to our under funded LGBT organizations that are fighting every day for equality.
It might not seem like much but just consider this. In 2002 the 13 companies that scored 100 percent on the HRC Equality Index employed approximately 690,000 people. Now 5.6 million people work at the 101 companies that scored 100 percent in 2005.
If more of those 5.6 million people were spending for equality our combined financial muscle could deliver a knockout punch once and for all to the AFA and all of its kindred spirits. Now that would really be money talking.

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Michelle E. Brown is a public speaker, activist and author. Her blog radio podcast “Collections By Michelle Brown” airs every Thursday at 7 p.m. Current and archived episodes can be heard on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/CollectionsbyMichelleBrown/.