Dustin Kight

Corporate Accountability: An Uptick? Some Reasons?

Filed By Dustin Kight | June 26, 2008 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Bolthouse, Department of Justice, DOMA, Family Equality Council, Focus on the Family, FX, gay adoption, GLAAD, Jennifer Chrisler, second parent adoption, Social Security, TiVo

Yesterday afternoon Family Equality Council released a statement from Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler on the state of our talks with TiVo, Inc. For the past three weeks, we have encouraged our supporters, their families and friends to contact TiVo and register their outrage at what appeared to be TiVo's direct endorsement of a "Super Dad" contest with hate group Focus on the Family.

Meanwhile, various Projectors have alerted us to Bolthouse Farms' financial support of the anti-marriage campaign in California.

And just a few days ago, GLAAD released a statement calling out 20th Century Fox and FX for allowing an episode of 30 Days on gay dads raising adopted children to feature Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council unchecked.

The Family Equality Council has been involved in the FX discussions, as well. For a show that's intended to see what happens when people with "opposite" views/backgrounds live together to surround that interaction with debunked myths, misinformation and lies is unacceptable.

For TiVo to allow Focus on the Family to use its branding and product to promote a discriminatory "Super Dads" contest is also unacceptable. And while William Bolthouse is donating his "personal" money to anti-LGBT initiatives, he gets the vast majority of that money from the family business, Bolthouse Farms. Therefore, LGBT people and allies buying Bolthouse products? Also unacceptable.

Perhaps it's just because I've been more involved in these corporate campaigns recently that I feel an uptick in our community's focus on corporations' offensive practices and associations. The uptick, should you agree that there is one, seems to be motivated less by corporations' personnel policies (the obvious exception here involving trans and gender nonconforming folks) and more by reactions to corporations we imagine would be (and have been in some instances) supportive of us.

GLAAD points out in its statement on "30 Days" that the series won a GLAAD Media Award in 2006 for its "Gay/Straight" episode. Still, in 2008, an entire editing process can occur, during which time a noted anti-gay activist (Sprigg) can be left to present "expert" information on gays and lesbians raising children in the same series.

There was a time, I imagine, when the Royal We would have shrugged and said, "Hey, what can you expect?"

Times appear to be changing. Our community has made great strides in recent years on any number of fronts -- even in areas where we get hit hardest the most. Take family law, for instance. Yes, we are fighting a nasty ban on gay and lesbian foster care and adoption in Arkansas (one that's far from "over to begin with," by the way), but a similar bill in Tennessee has almost no traction there, and just last year Colorado (not exactly the Massachusetts of the Rockies) passed a broad second-parent adoption bill that respects the value of at least two primary, legal caregivers for a child.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has instructed the Social Security Administration to respect the parent-child relationships established by state law in determining the distribution of benefits. In other words, for those states creating parent-child relationships outside of "marriage" and biology, the children of LGBT people will now be (at least partially) recognized and respected by federal law.

I have a hunch that part of what's happening here with upset over corporate practices and associations has to do with the impressive gains we've made. Social movement history tends to show an uptick in the righteousness and outrage a community feels the further they move along the spectrum of success -- however that success be defined. In other words, the closer you to get to equality and justice, the more pissed you are by the inequalities and injustices that continue to exist! (I'm not claiming a PhD in Rocket Science, just so you know....)

I think my boss summed it up quite nicely in her letter to our supporters re: TiVo:

In my conversations with TiVo I made it clear that we as an LGBT family community are not in the business of punishing companies. Rather our community seeks equality and inclusion in all aspects of life. We want our governments to grant us basic rights, to allow us to nurture and protect our families, and we want companies like TiVo to equally value our support of their services. I'm pleased that TiVo has recognized its mistake in allowing Focus on the Family to push a discriminatory contest with its name. I'll be fully satisfied when all companies understand that Focus on the Family and similar groups are not simply "controversial," but directly target and attack our lives.

We had nearly 1,100 individuals sign our petition to end TiVo's relationship with Focus on the Family in a few short weeks -- including folks who are friends of friends of friends of LGBT parents. Their statements for equality and inclusion are just as poignant as the statements our LGBT parents made. I recommend that you visit the petition site (heck, go ahead and add your signature if you like!) and read through the comments people left. They inspire me and demonstrate that our calls for justice and equality are ringing out and sinking in.

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Man, if we don't hold them accountable, who will?

Dustin, it is so very true. In an age where corporate execs can list their partners/spouses on their bios, we have become far mre sensitive to the insidious issues that can subtly poison pubic opinion.

And Bill, I doubt that you, I or any of the rest of the young or old school activists will ever be silent about discrimination or injustice. One of us will always be holding their feet to the fire.