These 25 rainbow-flag waving companies donated $13 million to anti-gay politicians since 2021
June is Pride Month, and this year's celebration has particular resonance. Over the last year, anti-LGBTQ politicians have relentlessly targeted the community with harmful legislation and other policy initiatives. There are new laws prohibiting teachers from acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ people, new policies targeting trans kids and their parents, and new bans on books with LGBTQ characters.
Major corporations, meanwhile, are eager to communicate that they are allies of the LGBTQ community. They are plastering their social media avatars with rainbows and sponsoring Pride parades. It's part of a strategy to attract the best employees and the widest range of customers. In short, being perceived as welcoming of the LGBTQ community is good for business.
A Popular Information investigation, however, found that 25 major corporations have donated more than $13.2 million to anti-LGBTQ politicians since the start of 2021. Popular Information's analysis included:
1. Money donated by corporate PACs to the campaigns of members of Congress that received a zero rating on the latest Congressional scorecard produced by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's most prominent LGBTQ rights organization.
2. Money donated by corporate PACs to the leadership PACs of members of Congress that received a zero rating on the latest Congressional scorecard produced by HRC.
3. Money donated by corporations and corporate PACs to state legislators who sponsored anti-LGBTQ legislation that was signed into law.
4. Money donated by corporations and corporate PACs to the Governors who signed anti-LGBTQ legislation into law.
5. Money donated by corporations to the primary 527 organizations that support anti-LGBTQ state legislators and governors: the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
Despite donating millions to anti-LGBTQ politicians, all 25 corporations included in Popular Information's analysis were highly rated by HRC's 2022 Corporate Equality Index. 15 of the 25 corporations received perfect scores (100) and none received a score below 80. Along with workplace policies, the Corporate Equality Index purports to measure corporations' "public commitment to the LGBTQ community." But HRC's methodology excludes political donations, enabling corporations to craft a pro-LGBTQ image while bankrolling politicians that are undermining LGBTQ rights.
HRC appears to be growing impatient with corporate hypocrisy. “Today is the first day of Pride -- how will you be showing up this year? Because putting out New Pride Merch and throwing coupons from a float is just not going to cut it. Touting your CEI score while donating to politicians who call us pedophiles is just not going to cut it,” Joni Madison, Interim President of HRC, told Popular Information. “We need corporations to get off the sidelines and actually pick a side. We need every single person who cares about where this nation is headed to get off the sidelines and actually pick a side. Our side.”
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AT&T has donated at least $1,052,000 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2021
Few companies are as aggressive in promoting their allegiance to the LGBTQ community as AT&T. Last June, for example, AT&T tweeted, “We can #TURNUPTHELOVE for LGBTQ+ youth together.” The company has asserted that it “recognizes, embraces, and stands with LGBTQ+ people” and claims to be committed to addressing the “mental health crisis among LGBTQ+ youth.”
In 2021, AT&T signed a letter organized by HRC stating that it opposes “bills being introduced in statehouses across the country that single out LGBTQ individuals - many specifically targeting transgender youth - for exclusion or differential treatment.”
But since 2021, AT&T has donated at least $1,052,000 to anti-LGBTQ politicians. That includes at least $598,000 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC and $250,000 to the RGA. AT&T also donated $204,000 to state politicians behind anti-LGBTQ legislation in Utah, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
AT&T's state-level donations include $100,000 to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), who issued a directive that called for investigations of parents of trans youth. Abbott cited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) opinion that facilitating the use of “puberty-blocking drugs” by children “can legally constitute child abuse.” AT&T also donated $10,000 to Paxton.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) recently signed the legislation known as “Don’t Say Gay” into law, which prohibits any discussion of “sexual orientation or gender identity” through the third grade and any discussion “that is not-age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students” in other grades. AT&T donated $50,000 to DeSantis in October 2021.
AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.
Deloitte has donated at least $843,400 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2021
Yesterday, Deloitte announced it was launching a campaign called “#QueerAllYear” for Pride 2022.
“Pride happens once a year in many parts of the world,” the company wrote on its site. “But what about the rest of the year? When the confetti is swept up and flags put away - how do we keep the spotlight on helping LGBT+ friends, family, and colleagues feel seen, valued and included?”
According to the accounting giant, “allyship isn’t just passive support, but part of our everyday actions - visibly and vocally supporting LGBT+ people inside and outside of Deloitte.”
The firm also boasts that it is “a signatory of the UN Standards of Conduct for Business in Tackling Discrimination against LGBTI people” and has been “recognized as a Global Equality Champion.”
But since 2021, Deloitte has donated at least $514,000 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 40 members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC. Deloitte also donated $3,500 to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R), who signed a bill in March banning trans girls and women from playing on women's sports teams. Stitt acknowledged "he was unaware of any current transgender athletes in the state and said he had not spoken with any transgender person while considering the bill."
The company has also contributed $310,900 to the RGA and $15,000 to the RSLC, organizations that support anti-LGBTQ politicians in all 50 states.
Deloitte did not respond to a request for comment.
Charter Communications donated at least $1,163,025 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2021
Charter Communications, also known as Spectrum, is celebrating Pride this month with a collection of LGBTQ-themed films that customers can access on-demand.
The company claims it is “committed to #LGBTQ acceptance & equality…so that everyone feels valued and empowered to bring their best ideas forward.” On its website, it touts that it recently “attended and sponsored the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) conference.”
Yet, since 2021, Charter Communications has donated at least $584,775 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 52 members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC. The company has also donated $148,250 to state legislators in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation. This includes a $10,000 donation to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) who “signed two bills [in April 2022] that target transgender young people and classroom discussion of LGBTQ identities.”
The company has also contributed $210,000 to the RGA and $220,000 to the RSLC, organizations that support anti-LGBTQ politicians in all 50 states.
Charter Communications did not respond to a request for comment.
Verizon has donated at least $559,762 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2021
On Wednesday, Verizon celebrated the beginning of Pride Month by tweeting that “[t]he only way forward is love, because #LoveConnectsUsAll.”
Verizon claims it is “proud to foster an inclusive environment” and that it is “committed to LGBTQ+ equality across the board.” In 2019, Verizon “launched a national Pride campaign” to “raise awareness of our presence and support for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Last June, Verizon partnered with LGBTQ organizations to “[connect] people and [amplify] the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals around the world.” Verizon “elevat[ed]” its support by donating “$1 million” to the Human Rights Campaign “to develop online training to help individuals and organizations improve their understanding of the LGBTQ community.”
Since 2021, Verizon has donated at least $504,812 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC. Verizon has also donated $50,450 to the RGA and $4,500 to politicians in Oklahoma and South Carolina behind recent anti-LGBTQ legislation. This includes $1,000 to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (R), who signed a law last month that “bans transgender athletes from playing on public school and college sports teams that align with their gender identity.” Previously, state high schools handled "questions of whether a student should compete on boys or girls teams on a case-by-case basis and has dealt with less than a half-dozen cases in five years."
Verizon did not respond to a request for comment.
General Motors has donated at least $1,031,900 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2021
General Motors says it is “committed to building a global culture of diversity and inclusion” and that it “has been a longtime supporter of LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace.” In a statement on its website, GM asserts that it “will continue to fight for LGBTQ+ rights to ensure the community feels seen and heard.”
Last June, GM tweeted that it is “proud to support the LGBTQIA community,” stating that as the “first automaker to support the Equality Act, we celebrate and embrace diversity as we continue our journey to becoming the most inclusive company in the world.”
GM also prides itself on being the “first automaker to join the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act.” The coalition was launched in 2016 in support of “federal legislation that would provide the same basic protections to LGBTQ people as are provided to other protected groups under federal law.”
Since 2021, GM has donated at least $605,000 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC. GM also donated $125,000 to the RSLC, $300,900 to the RGA, and $1,000 to state legislators behind anti-LGTBQ legislation in Kentucky.
“The GM employee-funded PAC supports the election of U.S. federal and state candidates from both sides of the aisle who foster sound business policies, support American workers and understand the importance of a robust domestic auto industry as we pursue an all-electric vehicle future,” the company told Popular Information. “GM is vocal about our commitment to the LGBTQ community in our company’s policies and we are a signatory of the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation.”
Other rainbow-flag waving corporations supporting anti-gay politicians
Ford told Popular Information that it “proudly supports our LGBTQ+ colleagues, customers and community” and that “contributions…are bipartisan and take into consideration many issues that are important to meeting the needs of our customers, our team and our company.” The other corporations did not respond to a request for comment.