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AFA targets Ford for supporting equal rights

Susan Horowitz
By | 2005-06-02T09:00:00+00:00 June 2nd, 2005|News|

DETROIT – The American Family Association is at it again, this time on the eve of June Pride. Undaunted by their failure against Microsoft and despite just ending a nine-year, unsuccessful boycott of the Walt Disney Company, they are now targeting the Ford Motor Company.
On May 30, the AFA sent an email to their members calling for a boycott. The anti-gay rights group has set up a special website, BoycottFord.com, with a petition and links to a directory of dealers. The AFA email cited Ford’s commitment to equal rights, including the company’s diversity training and donations to pro-gay human rights organizations in calling for the boycott.
“The AFA recently called off their years-long boycott of Disney, now they are picking on Ford,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation. “There could not be two more mainstream companies. It is clear that it is the AFA that is out of step with American values; that it is the AFA that is promoting bigotry; that it is the AFA that continues to stir the pot of bitterness and rancor.”
Joe Laymon, Ford’s vice president of Corporate Human Resources and Labor Affairs, affirmed the company’s commitment to honoring diversity in a statement responding to the announced boycott.
“Ford Motor Company values diversity among all of its constituents,” Laymon said. “The Company prides itself on strong and clear values – respect for our customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers; acceptance of our differences; inclusion of different people with different perspectives; and integrity to always do the right thing. Ford values all people – regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences. And we are glad to see that this spirit of inclusion is evident in the practices of other auto makers who do business in this country as well. It is one of the things that makes us proud to be part of the auto industry.”
In the past five years polls have shown that a vast majority of Americans believe LGBT people should not be discriminated against. In spite of this, the AFA has taken the lead in urging discrimination against Michigan families. The organization has led the fight to remove crucial health benefits from gay families across the state by challenging benefits offered through domestic partnership agreements with public employers. The AFA claims that the November 2004 passage of the anti-marriage amendment Proposal 2 means that these benefits are now illegal. As proof, they point to the amendment language banning marriage “or similar union for any purpose” for same-sex couples.
This latest battle attempts to attack businesses not impacted by Proposal 2’s passage.
Ford, which has a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, understands the value of the LGBT community. As reported by BTL on Feb. 10, 2005 the company joined DaimlerChrysler and General Motors Corporation in giving $250,000 to Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center’s capital campaign to fund the center’s new building. Ford and DaimlerChrysler are also sponsors of this year’s Motor City Pride which will take place June 5 in Ferndale.
“Apparently religious extremists like Gary Glenn are following in our footsteps – leaning on corporate America,” said Affirmations Executive Director Leslie Thompson. “While we maintain a positive dialogue with companies like Ford Motor Company, the religious extremists go into attack mode. Know the facts: Ford’s donation to Affirmations makes up less than one half of one percent of their total giving ($77 million in 2003). I challenge everyone reading about this to contact the Ford Motor Company Fund. Tell them you support their efforts. These groups tried and failed to bully Microsoft; let’s help Ford remain strong, too!”
Last month, a right-wing minister attempted to threaten a boycott of Microsoft over their support of gay-inclusive civil rights legislation. Microsoft originally responded by ending their support of the legislation which then failed. However, as reported by BTL on May 12, the company has since reversed that decision. (See “Microsoft to support gay rights” )
The announcement of the new boycott comes on the heels of the end of AFA’s Disney boycott. While a Disney spokesperson had no comment on that boycott, the company reported on May 11 that its second quarter earnings for 2005 were up by 27 percent.
The timing of the Ford boycott is also an attempt to attract media attention, a strategy employed for years by the AFA and other members of the extreme right.

Speak OUT!

Contact the Ford Motor Company Fund and compliment them for their support of the LGBT community.
Ford Motor Company Fund, One American Road, P.O. Box 1899, Dearborn, MI, 48126; 888-313-0102.
Let the Ford Motor Company know you appreciate their support!
Ford Motor Company, Customer Relationship Center, P.O. Box 6248, Dearborn, MI, 48126; 800-392-3673 or 800-232-5952 (TDD for the hearing impaired).

About the Author:

Susan Horowitz
Susan Horowitz is editor and publisher of Between The Lines/Pridesource.