As the fall-out from GLAAD's endorsement of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger continues, six GLAAD board members have resigned from the organization. On Tuesday, they filed a joint resignation letter that cited "various reasons" for their departures.
Their resignations join that of Jarrett Barrios, former president of GLAAD who resigned on Saturday after the LGBT blogosphere, led by The Bilerico Project and Michelangelo Signorile, pressured him to leave. Barrios had lied about the origin of a letter that GLAAD submitted to the FCC that opposed net neutrality; while Barrios blamed "administrative error," it turned out that the letter was drafted wholly by AT&T.
Politico reported on yesterday's six resignations using a source "familiar with the matter." Several of the former board members, Politico reported, left because of GLAAD's failure to uphold its conflict of interest standards and failure to protect Barrios.
Gary Bitner, who spoke with The Bilerico Project earlier this month regarding the dust-up on The Signorile Show that provoked the current controversy, was one of the six resignations. He asserted that his own departure was not associated with Barrios and instead suggested, rather unconvincingly, that this was a convenient time to lighten his workload. He told Politico via email:
Jarrett Barrios was an extraordinary leader at GLAAD, and my resignation had nothing to do with his fine work. ... A number of other factors were involved, chief among them the huge time commitment.
The six board members who resigned are Gary Bitner, Randi Weingarten, Jocelyn Bramble, Kelly Dermody, Humberto Mata, and James Walker. The current list of board members, which now stands at 23 (including officers) is available here, while the former board is available here. Politico reported that further resignations are likely:
The resignations of six prominent GLAAD board members comes as a blow to the organization and may be followed by additional departures from the gay and lesbian advocacy group. The person familiar with the resignations said about a third or half of the board may leave the organization by the end of the week.
You'll notice that Troup Coronado, the man at the center of all of the AT&T controversy, is not included on the list of resignations. Coronado is a former "LGBT organizational liaison" for AT&T who was responsible for seeking LGBT support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. Coronado distributed the request from AT&T to get the support of LGBT organizations. He is not currently taking phone calls from the media.
Coronado's role in the controversy is increasingly scandalous. This morning Phil Reese at The Washington Blade revealed that Coronado previously held a position at the Heritage Foundation, an anti-gay, ultra-conservative organization.
After an investigation into Coronado's past, the Blade has discovered that a Troup Coronado who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin the same year as AT&T's Coronado, and whom an anonymous source confirmed is the same person, appeared in several CSPAN videos from 1991-1993 as a representative of the anti-gay conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation. Jeremy Hooper of the GoodAsYou blog was able to identify several instances of media outlets covering the Heritage Foundation opposition to pro-LGBT legislation in the 1980s and 1990s, and Heritage has been vocal in opposing same-sex marriage over the past decade. The CSPAN video gives Coronado's title at the organization as Director of the New Majority Project.
Coronado's actions have made a mockery of the LGBT community. He has sold out the organizations for which he has served on the board and has seriously damaged GLAAD's reputation. It is disgraceful that a man who has so blatantly used LGBT organizations to advance the goals of a corporation like AT&T continues to sit on the GLAAD board while other members resign. The remaining GLAAD board members should remove Coronado from his position.
According to Politico, the rest of the GLAAD board will meet by phone today to discuss the various controversies that have plagued the organization this week.
Update, 1:15 p.m.: Randi Weingarten was immediately unavailable for an interview, but her assistant director at the American Federation of Teachers sent along a statement from Weingarten. The joint statement was also the response from Kelly Dermody and Humberto Mata, while Gary Bitner referred me to his statement to Politico, quoted above. The joint statement:
I have submitted my resignation from the board of directors of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Five other board members also resigned. They are Gary Bitner, Humberto Mata, Kelly Dermody, Jim Walker and Jocelyn Bramble.
Each of us resigned individually--for various reasons, which we will not comment upon publicly, as there already has been too much unfair and false information spread about GLAAD in the last two weeks.
We believe that GLAAD plays a vital role in our community and wish it only the best. We also thank GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios for his service and the 20-plus years he has committed to social justice and the LGBT community. He still has a wonderful career ahead of him.
Catch up on the controversy with additional coverage from The Bilerico Project: