About 20 protesters braved thunderstorms Friday afternoon to deliver a message that ExxonMobil Corp. discriminates against its LGBT employees, and to call attention to the need for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The protest was organized by GetEQUAL.
Three ExxonMobil stations in the Oak Lawn area were targeted. Protesters with signs chanted and talked to passersby.
At the station at Lemmon and Wycliff avenues, the manager complained to police soon after two protesters arrived, telling officers that they were hurting his business. Protester Chastity Kirven said an officer came over and said she was only relaying a message and wasn’t stopping the protest.
“Hurting his business. That’s the point,” Kirven said.
Two hours later, several officers approached the group that had grown to about a dozen at the same station. The officers said the group had to stop using bullhorns because a complaint had been called in from KFC across the street.
I checked with KFC to see if they had called police about the bullhorns in front 0f the Exxon station . People working in the restaurant said they weren’t even aware of the protest and that no one had called the police from there.
Kirven said she assumed it was the same Exxon manager who called the police, this time claiming to be from the neighboring business.
However, protesters complied with the police request and stopped using bullhorns.
At issue was the decade-old merger of Exxon and Mobil. After the two companies merged, the new company’s nondiscrimination policies didn’t include gays and lesbians. Partnership benefits such as insurance coverage for same-sex partners were also eliminated. Exxon had never had this coverage or protection. Mobil had been one of the earliest major companies with progressive employment policies and benefits.
Protests are scheduled at other Exxon stations in a number of cities around the country on Friday, May 21. Then individuals and various organizations, including LGBT and environmental groups, will protest the annual ExxonMobil shareholders meeting on May 26 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Downtown Dallas. The shareholders’ meeting has been greeted with protesters every year since the merger.
The Meyerson protest begins at 8 a.m. to greet shareholders as they enter the building. The stockholders’ meeting begins at 9 a.m. Only people who own stock in ExxonMobil can attend.