Community in Action

Grassroots campaign asks corporations to reconsider donations to anti-LGBT politicians

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By Melissa Lowery

Consumers are getting restless. Driven by Millennials and the emerging Gen Z populations, consumers are demanding that companies do more than talk the talk when it comes to values. Communities are coming together to hold companies accountable for their actions, most notably in who and what they support. They want consistency and authenticity from the companies they choose to do business with.

We’ve seen this in the case of firms pulling advertising from FOX News programs following public outcry on social media. We’ve seen the website Breitbart lose most of their advertisers following consumer criticism. The NRA recently shuttered their streaming platform due to lack of sponsorship as companies increasingly distance themselves from the organization. On the flipside, Nike saw its stock price soar following their decision to pull a shoe design criticized by Colin Kaepernick. Incidentally, Nike’s commercial introducing Kaepernick as a spokesperson and highlighting his advocacy was nominated for an Emmy award.

This is the atmosphere that launched Zero for Zeros, a grassroots campaign challenging major corporations for championing LGBT equality with one hand and supporting anti-LGBT politicians through campaign donations with the other hand. While acknowledging support for the LGBT community from companies like American Airlines, Pricewaterhousecoopers and UPS, Zero for Zeros is asking them to do better by halting PAC donations to the “worst of the worst” anti-LGBT politicians.

“During Pride Month, corporate America was out loud and proud in support of its LGBT employees and customers, but on the political side, they are donating to some of the most outspoken opponents of LGBT equality in Congress,” said Lane Hudson, Zero for Zeros’ campaign manager.

Zero for Zeros used publicly available 2010-2018 campaign contribution data from Follow the Money to identify corporations scoring 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index that also contributed to the “worst” anti-LGBT Representatives and Senators in Congress. The politicians were identified as those who scored a zero on the HRC’s 114th and 115th Legislative Scorecard and signed or supported legislation such as H.R. 3829 State Marriage Defense Act (2014), H.J. Res. 32 Marriage Protection Amendment (2015), and S. 2525 First Amendment Defense Act.

Among the “worst of the worst” politicians who received contributions from HRC 100 companies are Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI-06) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1). Visit ZeroforZeros.org for the full list.

The 49 companies the Zero for Zeros campaign called out have contributed a combined $5.8 million from their corporate PACs to these anti-LGBT members of Congress. The campaign is targeting the companies in waves, beginning with tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Hudson said the campaign’s goal is to engage in constructive conversations with the 49 companies on the list and urge them to halt any donations to anti-LGBT politicians in keeping with their lauded support for LGBT equality.
“The Zero for Zeros campaign is asking our corporate allies to take one more small step and end their corporate PAC contributions to the politicians who work every day against equality,” he said.

The campaign’s website – zeroforzeros.org – draws a stark comparison between the HRC 100 companies and anti-LGBT politicians by juxtaposing corporate statements supporting LGBT equality with bigoted, ignorant, repugnant anti-LGBT public comments from politicians those companies have supported via PAC donations.

It’s a bold move for an already gutsy campaign. Putting some of the community’s biggest advocates — several NGLCC corporate sponsors are on the list as well as equality award winners, PRIDE sponsors and signers of amicus briefs supporting LGBT equality (aka human rights) — on the spot for inconsistency at this level is guaranteed to ruffle feathers. And that’s why it took a grassroots movement to do it.

The organizers and supporters of Zero for Zeros decided not to wait for organizations like HRC or NGLCC to hold corporations accountable. Instead, they drew together a diverse group of activists who were willing to be the David to corporate America’s Goliath and ask them to be true allies. People like Mitchell Gold, Omar Sharif, Jr, Hilary Howes and Lisa Polyak are raising their voices and asking these companies to walk the walk.

“The most anti-LGBT members of Congress constantly insult and assault the LGBT community,” said campaign supporter Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of the weekly political talk show #WokeAF on SiriusXM. “We urge these corporate allies to stand with our community by ending their financial support of the most hateful members of Congress.”

Learn more about Zero for Zeros at zeroforzeros.org.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.

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