By Leslie Ann Thompson
It’s been written that not a single leader of the LGBT movement will accept anything less than a public disavowment from Ford regarding its recent marketing decisions, in relation to the threatened AFA Boycott.
Not true – this leader has a different perspective to share. I’d like to ask everyone in Michigan’s LGBT community to step back and re-consider this situation. Let’s start by looking at a few key pieces of information.
What do we know about Ford Motor Company and their relationship with us?
– HRC ranks Ford with a 100 percent LGBT-friendly company score, in part due to its gay-friendly employee protections.
– Ford was voted Most Gay-friendly Company to Work For in 2003 by Michigan BTL readers.
– Ford has sponsored innumerable events within our local LGBT community, donating thousands and thousands of dollars over the last several years.
– Ford has donated a quarter of a million dollars toward the construction of a new LGBT community center in Ferndale.
What actually happened?
Ford recently pulled LGBT advertising that might have been in response to a threatened boycott by the American Family Association, a decision that comes at a time when they’ve posted corporate losses of up to $1.2 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2005 and are facing thousands of job layoffs and several plant closings. I say “might” here because we don’t yet know all the facts. Further, we don’t know what was agreed to and why, and may never know since we were not sitting at the table.
But this editorial is not so much about what’s happening at Ford, but rather how we as a community are addressing it. I’m disheartened by our community’s willingness to believe the spin being publicized by the American Family Association. The AFA is no friend to any of us. Consider the following list of recent lies told by the AFA (from http://www.afa.net/homosexual_agenda/homosexuality.pdf):
– “Homosexuality is not only harmful to homosexuals themselves, but also to children and to society. It has proven deadly for many.”
– “The homosexual community has engaged the power of government in what some regard as brainwashing our children.”
– [In comparing homosexuality]: “If we discovered that being a serial killer was genetic…we certainly would not allow him to act upon his serial killing or sociopathological disposition.”
We know the AFA lies, and yet we seem to be so willing to believe the AFA in this situation. Not only are we believing it, but we’re making nationally-known, public demands on the car company. Not a very nice way to thank them for their years of support. This past week, it’s almost like Ford has been on trial in the gay community, like they’ve been put at the top of the suspect list in crimes against LGBT people. And suspiciously enough, doesn’t this seem to be just the kind of situation that the AFA would love – pitting us against one of our strongest corporate allies?
Furthermore, is this the way we treat our longtime supporters? What message does this send to other businesses as they consider whether or not to offer domestic partner benefits, whether or not to support an LGBT cause? I couldn’t blame them for being afraid that we’d turn our back on them the minute anything remotely controversial came up. Frankly, I can see why they’d just shy away from the whole mess.
So I challenge the entire LGBT community, every one of us, to take a step back and ask who’s really holding the cards here when we spend all this time and all these resources on responding to a drama that they, the AFA, have created.
Let’s show some humanity by being truly fair minded and treat Ford and our amazing LGBT colleagues at Ford GLOBE with the same dignity and respect with which they have treated us for nearly a decade, allowing them the ability to respond to this situation in due time.