Last month, we saw a bunch of companies from Hollywood, the perceived heart of liberal culture, vacillate on whether to stop filming in Georgia after the state passed an extremely restrictive abortion law. Now, we have the familiar sight of corporations who donate to reactionary, anti-LGBTQ causes co-opting Pride. Awesome.
The newsletter Popular Information, written by former Think Progress editor Judd Legum, has a post out today tracking the political activities of some of the corporations celebrating Pride Month. Among them are AT&T, whose corporate PAC donated over $2.7 million to nearly 200 anti-gay politicians in the last election cycle; UPS, which donated $2.3 million to 159 anti-LGBTQ politicians; and Comcast, which donated over $2 million to 154 anti-LGBTQ politicians.
Additionally, Legum names Home Depot, General Electric, FedEx, UBS, Verizon, and Pfizer as all having donated substantial amounts to politicians who consistently vote against LGBTQ equality and for discrimination. Comcast, for example, gave North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx $10,000 in her last campaign; Foxx once called Matthew Shepherd’s murder a hoax, saying it was a simple robbery in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
All of these companies have received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign in its Corporate Equality Index. In a statement, HRC said that its CEI was a “critical tool for advancing LGBTQ equality in the workplace, but it is not the only tool.”
As gross as all of this is, it’s par for the course that these companies would value profit margins over the platitudes they are now paying the LGBTQ community. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, for example, was a champion of the Republican tax cut in 2017, with the telecommunications giant promising to invest $1 billion in 2018 that would include the creation of 7,000 new jobs. (After getting the tax cut, by the way, AT&T cut 23,000 jobs in 2018.)
These are also the most blatant offenders in that they donated to specific politicians; as Facing South found in 2016, many of the companies opposing the anti-trans, anti-worker “bathroom bill” HB 2 had supported the Republican Governors Association and Republican State Leadership Committee, the organizations responsible for electing Republican governors and state legislators across the country. Nearly 130 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced at the state level in 2018.
Corporations have acknowledged that it’s beneficial to them to outwardly support the LGBTQ community. But when it comes to material support, big business is still a willing partner in a reactionary project of unfettered capitalism and social conservatism. And as the donations these corporate PACs make show, the benefits of the first part of that equation continue to outweigh their concerns about the second.