As Judd Legum reported in Popular Information this morning, telecom giant AT&T might have dressed up its logo in rainbows for Pride Month, but it also dumped well over $100,000 into homophobic politicians’ campaigns.
Legum explains both the extent of AT&T’s giving and some of the most egregious examples of homophobes benefiting from the corporate largesse:
During June alone, AT&T gave $144,500 to more than 40 anti-gay politicians and their leadership PACs, a new FEC filing reveals.
Among the recipients of AT&T’s money during Pride Month was Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who received $1000. In 2017, Hartzler proposed legislation to deny medical treatment to trans members of the military. Hartzler said trans people who served in the military posed a danger to the United States that was similar to “North Korea, and Putin and ISIS.” Hartzler’s bill was defeated, but the policy was later adopted by the Trump administration.
Hartzler, Legum continues, has hitched most of her political career to virulently anti-LGBTQ positions, an “anti-gay crusader.” (She also gained notoriety in 2012 for jumping on the “birther” bandwagon, joining those questioning the legitimacy and “Americanness” of former President Obama by claiming he was born outside the U.S. Hartzler is a charmer.)
That AT&T supported 39 further anti-gay politicians, let alone just Hartzler, is unconscionable. But perhaps it’s not exactly surprising, either.
AT&T’s corporate giving reflects the common inconsistencies seen in many companies’ approaches toward supporting the LGBTQ+ community, though to a particular degree. For example, AT&T signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, along with 200-plus other companies, in support of extending Title VII’s workplace non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, a story Instinct has covered repeatedly.
These inconsistencies abound; Starbucks, another major corporation signing on in support of the brief noted above, ironically was involved in a contentious lawsuit this year, defending itself against a trans woman in California who alleged pervasive harassment and a hostile work environment at her local Starbucks employer.
As Trudy Ring reported in Advocate last month, the Fresno County Court’s “tentative ruling [concluded] that a local Starbucks and its manager did not discriminate against or harass a transgender employee.” Advocate‘s David Artavia earlier reported the cruel irony that Starbucks, despite company policies declaring otherwise, claimed in its defense that “there [wasn’t] enough evidence to show that [the manager] called [the plaintiff] by incorrect pronouns intentionally.” (Misgendering is forbidden under Starbucks Workplace Guidelines.)
When AT&T responded to the New York Times, which covered Legum’s earlier reporting at Popular Information, the company “both sides-ed” the issue, essentially saying it supports a range of candidates of both parties, whomever might benefit the company’s long-term interests.
As Legum asked this morning, “isn’t LGBTQ rights an issue that impacts AT&T’s business, employees, and customers? The company’s Twitter account sure makes it seem that way.”
It sure does.
(Source: Popular Information)