Ford shareholders vote to retain LGBT protections

By |2006-05-18T09:00:00-04:00May 18th, 2006|News|

By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

WILMINGTON, Del. – On May 11, the shareholders of Ford Motor Co. issued a resounding “no” to right-wingers seeking to dictate the automaker’s employment policies.
At issue was Proposal 9, which would have removed sexual orientation from the company’s anti-discrimination policy.
By a 95 percent vote, shareholders voted for equality and against the wishes of the extremist right.
However, in what seems to be a disregard for the facts, the American Family Association is calling the vote a “victory.” According to a May 11 Agape Press article, the fact that the proposal received more than one percent of the vote means that it can be brought before shareholders at next year’s annual meeting.
“The mere fact that five percent voted for this proposal came as a shock,” Agape Press quoted Don Wildmon, the AFA chairman, as saying. “And we’re very grateful that we got that five percent and that this issue can come back up again next year.”
Tom Strobhar, the anti-gay family activist who, according to Agape Press, stood in support of the resolution, was quoted as saying he hoped “to have the support of a group of concerned Christian shareholders with him,” at next year’s annual meeting.
“By the time next year comes around, this issue will be even more stale than it is today,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation. “The fact of the matter is that the decisive majority of Ford shareholders realize that this was a trumped-up issue, and unequivocally support Ford Motor Company’s commitment to its gay and lesbian employees. [The vote] makes abundantly clear Ford’s commitment to equality and doing the right thing.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Ford is merely following good business practice in providing anti-discrimination protection to its LGBT employees.
“Corporate America is leading in treating its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees fairly because they know that open and honest employees make better products. Efforts to turn back the clock, like this one, won’t succeed,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of HRC’s Workplace Project.
The AFA’s characterization of a 95-5 percent vote as a “victory” seems part of a string of Ford Motor Company-related inaccuracies reported by the anti-gay organization of late. The May 3 edition of BTL reported that the AFA inaccurately stated that Ford was sponsoring the mass Commitment Ceremony that is scheduled to take place Saturday, June 3 in Ferndale as part of Motor City Pride. In reality, the company is sponsoring a children’s play area at Motor City Pride on June 4.
In addition to that error, on the same day that Agape Press was calling the Ford stockholder’s vote a “victory” for anti-gay forces, the AFA released an email newsletter claiming that Ford was “Mak[ing a] Historic Move in Support of Groups Pushing Homosexual Marriage,” by virtue of the company’s advertisements in OUT Magazine.
However, OUT Magazine is a lifestyle publication that does not promote the issue of equal marriage rights, according to spokesperson James David.
“OUT magazine is lifestyle and entertainment,” said David, adding that Paris Hilton appears on this month’s cover. “The May issue was the summer home special. [We’re] targeted toward lifestyle, style and fashion.”
The AFA’s claim that Ford is supporting what it calls “homosexual marriage” by advertising in OUT is, “maybe not apples and oranges, but apples and pears,” David said.
“The magazine has not taken any stand on this issue, but obviously equal marriage rights are important to many people who work at the company,” David said.

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.