Anti-gay Walmart to add 12 stores in Dallas

Walmart plans to open 12 new stores in Dallas, according to a celebratory press release sent out by Mayor Tom Leppert’s office earlier today.

Unfortunately, the LGBT community doesn’t have much reason to celebrate.

Walmart scores a dismal 40 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, based on the company’s treatment of LGBT workers.

The world’s largest retailer was docked 15 points on the CEI for resisting shareholder efforts to add gender identity to it employment nondiscrimination policy. According to HRC, Walmart and ExxonMobil Corp. are the only two top 10 companies that have yet to add gender identity to their nondiscrimination policies.

Also, unlike the majority of Fortune 500 companies, Wal-Mart doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits to its employees except where required by law.

Walmart withdrew its support for LGBT organizations in 2007 after conservative Christian groups threatened a boycott. And in 2008, CEO Mike Duke signed a petition in support of banning gay adoption in Arkansas.

In other words, we’d rather shop at Target.

The city’s full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Dallasites helped fuel GetEQUAL

Reed.Mark
SPEAKING UP | GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup of Dallas uses a megaphone to get his message across outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office last week during a protest of her vote against repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

No. 9:

View all of the Top 10

Dallas activists have played key roles in GetEQUAL, which has quickly become one of the most influential national LGBT direct action organizations since ACT-UP.

According to its website, GetEQUAL’s mission is “to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”

The group was founded on March 11 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — organizers of last year’s National Equality March — as an alternative to other groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Mark Reed-Walkup, a Dallas business owner who also helped organize the National Equality March, now serves on the board for

GetEQUAL, which gained nonprofit status in June. In May, Reed-Walkup became the third activist from Dallas to be arrested at demonstrations organized by GetEQUAL. He was arrested along with five others for chaining himself to the White House fence in a protest to demand a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

On March 18, Dallas activists Chastity Kirven and Michael Robinson had been arrested — Robinson in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office and Kirven in Pelosi’s San Francisco office — during protests to demand a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

This same day, Lt. Dan Choi handcuffed himself to the White House fence in his first protest of DADT as part of GetEQUAL’s new direct action campaign. Choi was dischraged from the Army under DADT.

Local members of Get Equal also organized several actions in Dallas.

They held an ENDA rally outside the Dallas office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. They also protested outside ExxonMobil Corp.’s shareholders meeting at the Meyerson in June, and at Oak Lawn-area service stations.

Last week, Get EQUAL Texas held rallies outside Hutchison’s offices across the state to protest her vote against repealing DADT.
Reed said GetEQUAL is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and should  become more active in Texas in 2010.

— From staff reports

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

According to HRC, you shouldn’t be renting movies at Blockbuster or drinking Dr. Pepper

A record number of companies are rated according to their LGBT-related employment policies in this year’s Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, which was released Monday. Unlike in previous years, HRC has issued “unofficial” ratings for companies that didn’t respond to its survey. These unofficial ratings are based on publicly available information and information submitted to HRC by unofficial LGBT employee groups or individual employees. As a result, the CEI seems to present a more accurate portrait of workplace equality, because companies that know they’ll score well are more inclined to respond to HRC’s survey, and vice versa.

In North Texas, for example, a total of five companies now receive the lowest possible score of zero from HRC, meaning they don’t provide even the most basic protections, such as a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. North Texas-based companies that received a zero in this year’s CEI are ExxonMobil Corp. of Irving, Commercial Metals of Irving, Crosstex Energy Inc. of Dallas, Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas and Holly Corp. of Dallas.

Other notably low unofficial scores were given to Dallas-based Blockbuster (45), Plano-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (15)  and Fort Worth-based developer DR Horton Inc. (30).

Also of note, HRC docked Target, Best Buy and 3M 15 points each “for failing to respond to requests to take corrective actions following their sizable contributions to MN Forward, a political committee supporting the election of an anti-gay candidate for governor of Minnesota.”

Below is a full list of HRC-rated companies based in North Texas this year (companies are based in Dallas unless otherwise noted, unofficial scores shaded gray):

—  John Wright

Sign GetEQUAL's ExxonMobil petition

If you can’t make the big ExxonMobil protest outside the Meyerson next Wednesday, or even if you can, be sure to sign the online petition that GetEQUAL plans to deliver to the company’s shareholders. Here’s what it says:

To the Shareholders of ExxonMobil:
In the ’90s, Mobil had a progressive Equal Employment Opporutnity (EEO) policy, specifically prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Mobil also extended benefits to domestic partners of employees. But after the merger with Exxon in the late 90s, you rescinded both of these policies.
In a recent letter, your Vice President of Investor Relations said this:
“Where we [ExxonMobil] operate in countries in which the national laws require specific language regarding nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity be included in policies, we have amended our policies as appropriate.”
That means that you only plan to do the right thing if the government makes you. We’ve been working for more than 30 years to pass a federal law for workplace protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. We’re very close to making that happen, but you shouldn’t wait for a federal law to re-enact your company’s nondiscrimination policy.
We, the undersigned, stand with LGBT employees of ExxonMobil – and all LGBT working people in this country – demanding that you include gender identity and sexual orientation in your company’s EEO statement.

—  John Wright