Leppert’s DOMA comment was a slap in the face

Lorie Burch

LORIE BURCH  |  Chairwoman, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce

As chairwoman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, I am disappointed with Mayor Tom Leppert’s recent statements denouncing the Obama Administration’s statement that it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government and certain states from honoring same-sex marriages in other states and jurisdictions.

Mr. Leppert has purported to be an advocate of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community through his tenure as Dallas mayor. He’s been an honored guest at many of our community’s most prestigious events like the North Texas Chamber’s Anniversary Dinner and the Black Tie Dinner. He has been part of the International GLBT Press Tour, and helped to sell Dallas as a preferred destination for important GLBT conferences.

In light of his recent resignation as mayor, presumably to pursue Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat, such a reversal is politicking at its worst and is a slap in the face to the North Texas GLBT community who have shown him its support.

It is time to expect more from our leaders. No longer should we tolerate this “back of the bus” argument that the GLBT community can have some rights, but not all rights. You cannot qualify equality and we deserve leaders who will stand up for us and be our voice and not cow-tow to their political base. Equality is not a political platform; it is the foundation of our country. Civil rights are not a matter of public opinion; they are a guarantee to us under our Constitution. It is, simply, our way of life.

—  admin

Target refuses to make nice with the gays

Expect to see more protests like the one above in West Hollywood.

Just hours after we posted this story from the Associated Press about conservatives pressuring Target not to make a donation in support of LGBT equality, the Human Rights Campaign announced Monday afternoon that the company has decided it will take “no corrective actions to repair the harm that it caused by contributing $150,000 to an organization supporting a vehemently anti-gay candidate closely associated with a Christian rock band that advocates death and violence to gay people.”

In a press release, HRC said the company’s decision came after two weeks of discussions and two tentative agreements.

“All fair-minded Americans will now rightly question Target’s commitment to equality. If their initial contribution was a slap in the face, their refusal to make it right is a punch in the gut and that’s not something that we will soon forget,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “However, with full marriage equality hanging in the balance in Minnesota, regardless of Target, it’s important that we as a community send a message that we will work tirelessly to elect pro-equality candidates.”

HRC goes on to say that it will devote $150,000 of its own resources to help elect pro-equality candidates in Minnesota. HRC is still awaiting a response from Best Buy, which also contributed money to MN Forward, the group supporting anti-gay Republican Tim Emmer in the governor’s race.

“Target and Best Buy have — and no doubt will continue to have — model employment policies for LGBT people. We will continue to support those efforts. But before they can regain that exalted status among their consumers, they need to make things right in Minnesota,” said Solmonese. “The nation’s LGBT community has shown these two companies enormous customer loyalty. Now it’s time for that faithfulness to be returned.”

Going back to the AP story, it sounds like Target was ultimately more faithful to the almighty dollar:

Conservatives are watching to see whether Target bends to the pressure, said Kelly O’Keefe, a brand expert at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

“They’re likely to raise the ire of a different constituency of customers and get themselves in a never-ending cycle of alienating people,” he said. “A better thing is for them to swear off any future investment in elections.”

The full HRC press release is after the jump.

UPDATE: For your further viewing pleasure, check out this inspiring in-store flash mob protest:

—  John Wright

HRC to Target and Best Buy: ‘Make it Right!’

Below is the press release that just came across. After the jump, we’ve posted the open letter that accompanied it. To sign the letter, go here.

HRC Message to Target and Best Buy: Make it Right!

Nation’s Largest LGBT Rights Organization Condemns Political Contributions Supporting Anti-Equality Candidate

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today condemned donations by Target and Best Buy to a political committee supporting the election of an anti-equality candidate and asked them to make it right by contributing to groups that support pro-equality candidates.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, Minnesota-based retailers Target and Best Buy, among others, contributed a combined $250,000 to MN Forward, an independent expenditure committee advocating for the election of a strident opponent of LGBT equality as the state’s next governor. The same candidate sings the praises of a Christian rock band that advocates violence and death to gays. The state’s next governor will have the opportunity to either sign or veto legislation allowing for marriage equality in the North Star State.

“It’s a huge slap in the face to LGBT people and for that matter to all fair-minded Americans,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC president. “Two of our most trusted brands have contributed shareholder money that could help elect a candidate that wants nothing but the worst for us. Both companies talk about this contribution as a business decision. I would offer that it’s a really bad business decision. Both companies have now earned the bad will of LGBT people and fair-minded Americans. They need to make it right.”

This afternoon, HRC will send out a national email alert to its members and supporters asking them to sign on to an Open Letter to Target and Best Buy. The letter chronicles the outrage and asks both companies to make equivalent donations to groups that support pro-equality candidates. HRC has also purchased a full page ad featuring the letter in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune. Corporations mindful of the perceptions of LGBT and allied consumers should take notice of the controversy surrounding these political contributions.

Both companies have consistently received a 100 percent rating on the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a measure of workplace equality. “What makes this all the more astounding is that both companies have been model employers for LGBT people,” said Solmonese. “They have some fence-mending to do.”

—  John Wright