Civility, ethics and good business vs. bigotry, discrimination and religious fanaticism
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 24, 2008, 00:14

Don Wildmon and his �American Family Association� just love to hurt American businesses and the families they support. Their modus operandi is launching campaigns and boycotts against any company that treats its gay and lesbian employees equally or has the audacity to advertise in gay-oriented publications. They don�t give a damn about the families that might be hurt, including families they claim to be representing and �protecting.�

One of Wildmon�s latest targets is General Motors. According to his March 27 AFA �Action Alert,� GM�s heinous crime is �advertising in homosexual publications and on the gay TV cable channel LOGO.�

How awful! A company that targets some of it advertising to a minority group. Would Wildmon and the AFA have similar objections to GM advertising in Ebony magazine or on Black Entertainment Television?

Ah, but Wildmon and his ilk don�t consider homosexuals a true minority. Despite mounting scientific and medical evidence to the contrary, they claim homosexuality is simply �a choice.� Aside from the absurdity of people choosing to be discriminated against, mocked, harassed, beaten and killed, would Wildmon and the AFA object to General Motors advertising in faith-based based magazines or on a religious television broadcast? Religion is, after all, purely a choice.

Wildmon�s two-fold purpose is obvious: attack business that don�t sign on to AFA-style bigotry while encouraging legalized discrimination against gay Americans and their families. It�s obvious that these activities are destructive to society and businesses as Todd Simmons� March 25, 2008 article in Oregon�s Statesman Journal noted:

Repealing gay-rights laws would have chilling effect
Economy suffers if businesses, workers avoid Oregon

Oregon voters may well face two issues this fall that many people probably think were resolved some time ago: the state's new anti-discrimination and domestic-partner laws.

Although some are trying to characterize those potential ballot measures as solely "moral issues," both undoubtedly have economic implications that voters would be well advised to consider. . . .

Such policies are increasingly the law of the land. More than 90 percent of companies listed in the Fortune 500, for instance, ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, including such Oregon stalwarts at Nike and Intel. . . .

It's one thing not to have such laws in place; many states still do not. But it's another thing entirely to repeal them once they've been enacted. To do so would send a signal to the nation that Oregonians want the ability to discriminate, to treat neighbors and co-workers unfairly without repercussions.

Such a message would poison the environment in such areas as business relocations. How many companies would choose to set up shop in a state that is repealing civil-rights laws? It also would have a chilling effect on existing companies' ability to attract and retain the best and brightest employees, most of whom expect progressive workplaces and living environments.

Oklahoma is learning that same lesson thanks to state representative Sally Kern who, in a March 2008 public meeting, said gay people are �a bigger threat� to America than terrorists and that they will be �the death knell of this country.� Ms. Kern went on to share more of her �wisdom�:

They [gays] want to get our young children into government schools so they can indoctrinate them. They�re going after our young children, as young as 2 in age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable. . . . One of my colleagues said, �We don�t have a gay problem in my community, and that�s why I voted against this bill [which bill she was referring to is uncertain] . . . To me, that is so dumb. If you�ve got cancer in your little toe, do you say, �Well, you know, I�m going to forget about it because the rest of me is fine.� It spreads, and this stuff [gay people] is deadly. It�s spreading, and it will destroy our young people.

Kern�s remarks drew national attention and condemnation, especially when she adamantly refused to apologize: �I will not apologize. I did not say anything false. I did not say anything malicious or hateful.� You have to wonder how she defines �false,� �malicious� and �hateful.�

If you were a gay person in her district, how would you feel? How would a company planning to relocate to Oklahoma feel?

Anti-Gay Remarks Could Cost Oklahoma Major Corporation
April 16, 2008

A major corporation is reportedly having reservations about relocating to Oklahoma City in light of comments by state Rep. Sally Kern that gays are a worse threat than terrorists.

The Journal-Record reports that Staubach, a company that helps corporations relocate, is having trouble selling the city to its client, described only as a triple-A company with more than 1,000 employees.

From the April 16, 2008 Oklahoma Journal Record report, �OKC Chamber: Kern spooks big biz relocation consultant by Brian Brus:

Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the issue is a major concern the chamber is trying to address. He confirmed a Staubach consultant was troubled by Kern�s comments during a recent visit to the city.

�He told us straight up . . . �I cannot recommend to any of my clients that they should consider Oklahoma City because of that,�� Williams said. �When you have one of the nation�s premier relocation experts making those statements, you should pay attention to that and not dismiss it.

Businesses know all too well the effect of anti-gay bigotry. Pittsburgh City Council President Douglas Shields recently warned Pennsylvania lawmakers considering a constitutional amendment making gays permanent second-class citizens that such an action �would void the city�s domestic partner law that was passed a dozen years ago. The law, Shields told the committee, helped attract and retain the best employees.� He went on to say, �We adopted our local anti-discrimination ordinance because we value all families,�� something that Massachusetts knows benefits everyone and the state:

Gay Marriage Attracting Skilled Workers To Mass.
March 3, 2008

(Boston, Massachusetts) Massachusetts is reaping huge financial gains as a result of same-sex marriage.

The Boston Business Journal reports that the only state in the country to allow gays to marry is become " a powerful lure for same-sex couples who want to live in a place where they can get married, gain legal rights and have access to spousal health benefits." . . .

"Since the marriage law passed, we see a lot more (gay) professionals moving into the Boston area," Henry Hoey, a member of the Greater Boston Business Council, a chamber of commerce for gay professionals told the Journal. . . .

Recruitment agencies and other business groups also say they have seen an influx of same-sex couples - mostly professionals.

Attorney Jeffrey Webb and his partner Mark Schuster moved from Los Angeles to Massachusetts in December order to marry.

"That was something that was really important to us," Webb told the Journal.

He is now a partner and practices trial law with a well known Boston-area firm. Schuster is now the chief of general pediatrics and vice chair for health policy research at Children's Hospital Boston.

Alas, Wildmon and his organization care about nothing other than propagating their own discrimination-based agenda. That was made even clearer when they went after McDonald�s because, as dour Don screeched in another Action Alert, �McDonald�s has signed on to a nationwide effort to promote �gay� and �lesbian� business ventures.�

You�ll have to ask Mr. Wildmon why he put quotes around �gay� and �lesbian.� Perhaps he doesn�t believe gays and lesbians exist, or that they shouldn�t have business ventures to try to earn an honest living. Don, on the other hand, leeches off others. �Click here to make a donation� was, of course, appended to Wildmon�s Action Alert. Perhaps the �reverend� should read the Bible and adhere to what it says about an honest day�s work and earning one�s keep.

The AFA began its response to McDonald�s with a blatant lie: �As a Christian organization, the American Family Association always seeks to be honest, accurate and completely forthright in the information we pass along to our supporters.�

All one has to do is read any of AFA�s One New Now articles to see how biased, slanted and outright misleading they are, especially when it come to gay Americans and their families. And then, of course, there�s AFA�s �ex-gay� video, It's Not Gay, which Wildmon�s organization -- and Peter LaBarbera�s Americans for Truth, which exists solely to work against equality for gay and lesbian Americans and their families -- continued to sell and promote even after the video had been repeatedly exposed as a fraud. Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out chronicled the events:

The anti-gay groups, the American Family Association and Americans for Truth, should be immediately shut down for committing wanton and craven acts of fraud. They are unabashed con artists duping their own members by selling a product both groups have admitted was misleading.

The merchandise in question is the AFA's anti-gay video �It�s Not Gay,� which is described on the box as �former homosexuals tell a story few have heard.� Unfortunately, the story most Americans have not heard is that Michael Johnston, the supposedly ex-gay star of the video, is a fake that witnesses claim participated in unethical and possibly illegal sexual behavior. . . .

In August 2003, the facade came crashing down. Michael Hamar, a Virginia attorney, called me to say he had a client who had been having an affair with Johnston, not realizing, at first, Johnston�s true identity as a prominent ex-gay figure. I was also introduced to another young man who claimed to have had unprotected sex with the ex-gay leader. While in Virginia, I was shown a video of a man that looked eerily similar to Johnston having unprotected sex with several men. Hamar�s client signed an affidavit swearing the man was Michael Johnston. (Under 18.2-67.4:1, Code of Virginia of 1950, as amended law, any person who, knowing he is infected with HIV, has sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, analingus or anal intercourse with another person without having previously disclosed the existence of his infection to the other person is guilty of criminal offense, and subject to fine or imprisonment.) The news broke in Southern Voice, Atlanta�s gay newspaper, which interviewed Johnston�s right-wing benefactors. . . .

How can the AFA and Americans For Truth's President Peter LaBarbara claim Johnston is a �former� homosexual, when he took part in unprotected gay sex after the video was filmed? Why is there no mention of his moral mudslide in the advertisements for the product? Don�t the members of these organizations have the right to know the whole story? This is an unadulterated swindle designed to scam gullible people and bilk them out of their hard earned money.

If the misguided want to submit to the quackery of �ex-gay� therapies, that�s their right. Snake oil has always been available to the gullible.

After years of studying the theopolitical campaigns against civil equality for gay Americans, I can come to only one conclusion: Don Wildmon and Peter LaBarbera, James Dobson and Louis Sheldon, Tony Perkins and the rest of the leaders of the sanctimonious �Christian� Right are nothing more than self-serving Machiavellians. They use jaundiced religion, stereotypes, half-truths and outright lies to justify their hate and bolster their fund-raising, which seems to be their only real goal. They need someone to hate and encourage others to hate and fear in order to fund their organizations that in turn compensate them quite well:

According to AFA�s 2005 IRS 990 (its tax return), founder Donald E. Wildmon received about $110,000 with benefits, plus over $30,000 in expense account and other allowances -- including a housing allowance of over $31,000. AFA president Tim Wildmon got about $100,000, and the organization's secretary, Forrest Daniels, received slightly more than $80,000.

The organization gives �scholarships� to any full time employee at �any accredited college or university,� which added up to about $54,000 in scholarships. As the blog Kevin's Space pointed out on March 30 [2007], �the kids of these people get their university education paid for, with funds that are donated, supposed to fight for the family. But it is clear the people who benefit are the Wildmon family.�

I recently attend commitment ceremonies in Pennsylvania and civil union ceremonies in New Jersey. Only love, joy and commitment were there. The happy couples wished no harm to anyone. They threatened no one. They just wanted to express their love and commitment publicly. Why would so-called �Christians� -- who marched outside in protest -- oppose that?

The mantra these holier-than-thou bigots use, �protecting marriage,� is prima facie ludicrous. Marriage doesn�t need protection, true Christian values do . . . from people who want to pervert them into a means to justify hate and discrimination while lining their own pockets.

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