Credit: Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press, Tannen Maury/STREPA, Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press, Francesca Roh/Xtra
Salty Queers
3 min

The LGBTQ2-friendly companies who bankroll homophobic and transphobic politicians

The Zero for Zeros campaign has the receipts

Every year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) releases the Corporate Equality Index, a ranking of US corporations based on how they treat their LGBTQ2 employees and advocate for LGBTQ2 causes. Cool, right? But here’s the catch: Of the 572 companies that received top marks (yes, the coveted 100-percent approval rating), 49 donated to 29 US representatives and senators known to support anti-LGBTQ2 campaigns and policies. 👀

Now, hold on to your seats because the receipts will shake you.

The donations were reported by Washington, DC activist group Zero for Zeros. The group tracks corporate contributions to political action committees, or PACs, which pool donations to fund ballot initiatives, legislation or to either elect or defeat candidates. In this case, it has singled out PACs that support politicians who have received a “zero” rating from the HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for *cough* hating the gays.

Based on the Zero for Zeros’ data, companies have given a total of $1,670,610 USD to these 29 LGBTQ2-hating politicians. For example, AT&T, Google, Microsoft and 10 other companies gave a total of $74,000 to racist, homophobic Iowa Republican, Rep. Steve King. The campaign also reported that Amazon, Facebook, American Airlines and 28 other companies donated $231,150 to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who once said that the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage was both “tragic and indefensible.” And Sen. Marco Rubio, who is known for his vocal opposition of marriage equality and used the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando to revive his senate career, also received $220,740 from companies including Capital One, Chevron and Amazon.

Zero for Zeros campaign manager Lane Hudson says companies should find ways to vet the politicians they’re funding. “Sometimes companies do have a business interest [in supporting certain PACs]. But it’s good business to support your employees, your customers and the values that your company purports to uphold as well,” he says.

Hudson adds that companies shouldn’t feel compelled to give money just because these politicians affect policies that regulate their industries. And that is some tea. 🍵

“These are only 29 [politicians, of the 535 members of Congress]. These 29 are the worst of the worst,” Hudson says.

The companies that are included in the Zero for Zeros campaign “have excellent internal policies for their LGBT employees, they don’t give to anti-gay organizations and they sponsor their employees to walk in Pride parades all around America and abroad,” Hudson says.

However, some of them spent more than $100,000 funding zero-rated politicians. Yikes.

“What we need is for our best corporate allies to be a part of saying that that’s not okay and that they’re not going to give their corporate PAC money to the people who are anti-gay,” Hudson says. “They’re going to make a priority of their LGBT employees and LGBT customers, and the principles that they said they believe in, which is equality and inclusion, and stop giving money to those people — and that will send a message that it’s not okay.”

When contacted by ThinkProgress for comment on the Zero for Zeros campaign, several of the offending companies offered statements. Here are some of them:

American Airlines: “With respect to the contributions that we make, we don’t agree on every issue with the lawmakers to whom we make contributions, but we fundamentally believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect — and equally under the law. We are proud to stand with the LGBTQ community, and our commitment to equality for all of our team members and customers is unwavering.”

AT&T: “Through political action committees, our employees support candidates on both sides of the aisle. But that doesn’t mean that they support every candidate’s views on every issue. Our committees of employees who make PAC contribution decisions are guided by our Core Values and candidates’ positions on issues that impact AT&T’s business.”

Intel: “Intel does not support discrimination in any form. The Intel PAC continuously evaluates its contributions to candidates.”

Hey, corporate entities: How about the dignity and respect LGBTQ2 people deserve?

Hudson says this campaign is not an attack on the corporations that he views as allies. Instead, it’s an opportunity to reconsider the implications of their donations.

“We’re not asking for the moon here,” he says. “These 29 [politicians] represent a very small percentage and it is not hard for [these companies] to find other ways to build relationships in Washington that matter to their business.”

Salty Queers

This story is part of Salty Queers, quick takes on the pop culture and political news that has us marinating in bitterness.