A Message from GLAAD's Neil Giuliano Regarding Ford Motor Company

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Tom Dempsey

Dec 15, 2005, 6:47:53 PM12/15/05
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As many of you may know, GLAAD and other LGBT civil rights organizations met with Ford Motor Company on Monday.  Our meeting was the culmination of two weeks' worth of conversations -- beginning with a convening of movement leaders by GLAAD and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force -- to discuss widespread public speculation and media reports that Ford was cutting back on its advertising and marketing to the LGBT community in order to avoid a threatened boycott by a defamatory anti-gay religious-extremist group called American Family Association.  Incensed by Ford's support for its gay and lesbian employees and its outreach to the LGBT market, the AFA had been threatening a boycott since early summer and had recently issued a public statement claiming success in their efforts to change Ford's policies.

Ford's letter today (which you can read at GLAAD.org, along with GLAAD's release on Ford's decision and a joint statement issued by GLAAD and more than a dozen other LGBT organizations) repudiates the AFA's false claims of victory over the auto maker.

The letter from Ford VP Joe W. Laymon reaffirms Ford's "principles of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness," confirms that Ford's brands will continue to create advertising tailored to effectively reach the LGBT audience, confirms that Ford will continue to support LGBT community events, and announces that Ford will be running ads in LGBT publications in 2006 that include not only Jaguar and Land Rover, but all eight of Ford's vehicle brands.

Ford's letter has made it clear: intimidation and threats by a handful of anti-gay radicals will not dictate their policies, their marketing strategies and their relationship with the LGBT market and community. Their message today signals a strong commitment by Ford to fairness, to inclusion, and to a quality relationship with our community.

Ford did the right thing here, both for its brand and for its bottom line.  When 90 percent of Americans support employment non-discrimination, when 80 percent support military service by gay Americans, when six out of 10 Americans favor legal protections for gay and lesbian couples, it's also clear that Ford's policies are in line with the values and the inclusion that most Americans support.

The events of the past two weeks offered us a golden educational opportunity.  It's important for corporations and media companies alike to understand that these anti-gay groups with the deceptive names do not speak for America's families.  These extremists want to define America by how many people they can leave behind.  They want to define the family by how many people they can exclude from it.  And as we've seen time and again, they seek to advance that agenda by threats and intimidation against companies, elected officials, judges, media outlets and anyone else who doesn't shun LGBT Americans and our families.

The Ford controversy underscored something else as well.  The AFA's defamatory attacks have once again engaged our community, strengthened our unity and reminded each of us that our voices make a difference.  Corporate America has been watching this case study unfold.  They know of our community's loyalty, of our desire to support those who support us, and of the power of our community's voices.  And they saw the leaders of our movement join together to amplify those voices -- a collaborative spirit that, as a new leader in this movement, has been immensely gratifying to experience and one I hope we will be able to build on in the months and years to come.

Make no mistake: Ford's stand today -- like those made by Microsoft, Wells Fargo and so many others before it -- sends a strong message to the rest of corporate America that there is never a reason to cave to the repugnant demands, threats and intimidation tactics of anti-gay extremist groups.

It is through your commitment to equality and your generous support that GLAAD has been able to effectively advocate on our community's behalf throughout the Ford controversy.  Thank you for raising your voice, for standing together as a community, and for your continuing support of GLAAD.

Thank you!


P.S.  Please take a moment today to send an e-mail or letter of thanks to Ford.  Visit GLAAD.org for more info! ---

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