So why all the corporate support?

Timothy Kincaid

April 2nd, 2015

Lately in our efforts to live in a nation in which our lives are treated and valued equally, we have come to rely on certain corporate advocates on our behalf.

For many years allies such as Wells Fargo and Levi Struass have made it clear that they welcomed gay customers and employees. Over time they were willing to help finance our causes and put their corporate name on the line. Then some tech world giants such as HP and Apple joined them, followed by Wall Street.

But no one, not on our side nor that of those who oppose equality, expected the loud, immediate, and very unanimous voice of Corporate America who demanded that Indiana and Arkansas not enact pro-discrimination provisions of their newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. This wasn’t just the usual somewhat-liberal companies, but CEO’s who had long Republican ties.

And not only did they demand change, they personally met with Republican leaders to be certain that the changes were adequate.

And let’s not fool ourselves. No progressive alliance, nor media demands, nor twitter storm changed these laws. They helped, of course. They created impetus. They undoubtedly put pressure on the Governors.

But only those who had connections and a history of contributions could walk in the door and tell the Republicans in the state legislatures that they were going to change their votes and do it now.

But why did they do it?

Some within Corporate America have very strong personal reasons for supporting the community – family, friends, those they care about. Others live in a world where diversity is respected. And undoubtedly, some were concerned about the impact that a negative image would have on the business in the states.

But I think it comes down to this: discrimination is a huge colossal pain in the ass for large businesses.

Most have gay employees who they value and need and they long ago got over the notion that it’s better moralize than make money. And anything that causes consternation in the workforce is bad for human resources. And unhappy human resources makes everyone tense. Which loses money and causes ulcers.

Frank Gilbreth proved decades ago that the single biggest contributor to productivity is the attitude of the employee. If employers show that they care about their employees, turn-over drops, production goes up and profits rise. So employers know that they have show that they are looking out for their gay employees – not just for their sake but for the other employees who are watching to see how committed they are.

And then there’s logistics.

It’s hard enough planning travel and accommodations for employees without worrying that Sanctimonious Joe’s Bed and Breakfast is going to make your keynote speaker at tomorrow’s conference sleep in her car. Or deciding where to order lunch if the Holy Memories Pizza is going to cancel on you because you have gay employees and they don’t support the homosexual lifestyle.

And what do you do with employee benefits like a gym membership or health discounts or even trivial things like winning the office raffle for a spa trip if you don’t know whether the businesses around you are going to hassle your employees because the gender of their spouse offends someone’s self-righteousness?

It’s one thing to have religious objections. Business people can work around the personal needs of others.

You need to be home by sundown on Fridays? We can do that. You need to be free Sunday mornings? Not a problem. You need a few minutes to face Mecca every day? Sure.

But it’s quite something else to pass a law whose unstated but unmissable intention is to invite discrimination. Because that’s going to cost time, energy, frustration, and money. That’s going to hurt some employees and cause hassle for others. That’s going to involve late night phone calls and interruption of golf games.

And that just won’t do.

Bose in Phoenix AZ

April 2nd, 2015

At a certain point, it’s got to be just pissing corporate American leaders off that we’re still having nutty arguments like this.

They’ve tried to be patient, hoping that the GOP machine would finally start coming around and speaking at least a little bit rationally while remaining corp-friendly and getting their jobs done.

But, none of that is happening. It’s an open question whether any coherent (much less competent) functionality will emerge from Republicans any time soon.


April 3rd, 2015

One thing that you allude to that I think is a key factor: anti-gay is no longer socially acceptable; support for gay rights is lots of good PR. Since most of the major corporations in this country already have gay-supportive personnel policies on the books, that’s basically a freebie.

And one thing that struck me, in your comments about working around the needs of others, and which Amanda Marcotte stated very well: it’s been easy to accommodate religious beliefs because people “stayed in their own lane.” Now, the “Christian” right is trying to hog the road, and people are getting fed up.


April 3rd, 2015

Lets not forget the trouble a business might face from one rebellious employee who thinks that the company’s non-discrimination policies infringe on her religious expression of disdain for LGBT (or other types of) coworkers and clients/customers. These broadly-worded RFRAs might protect such an employee from the repercussions of her actions, or at the very least tie up the company in lawsuits for a couple of years, all the while attracting bad press. Best if they not deal with it at all, which means tailoring RFRAs to keep such nonsense from happening, even if it benefits the LGBT community in the process.


April 4th, 2015

Nathaniel — that scenario is improbable at best. Such employee would be hard pressed to mount a case that inclusive personnel policies infringe on her religious freedom — although I’m sure Liberty Counsel would be happy to represent her. (Hilarity ensues.)

She has to be able to show harm, which she’s not going to be able to do, and the courts have generally held that nondiscrimination laws and policies represent a compelling interest.

She files suit, case dismissed, and she gets a note in her personnel file.

Eric Payne

April 4th, 2015

Corporate America responded to these STATES with threats that would have deprived those states of jobs and money.

If, after 2016, the GOP retains control of the House of Representatives and the Senate and – God forbid – the White House… and they enact legislation modifying the federal RFRA to the language of what states have been trying to do?

Richard Rush

April 4th, 2015

RFRA = Religious Favoritism Reinforcement Act


April 4th, 2015

Just as important, these laws interfere with employee recruitment and assignment.

Especially at educational institutions, top-notch employment candidates are likely to avoid places where discrimination is allowed and celebrated—either because they are gay themselves, or because they don’t wish to live in that environment or to raise their kids in it.

And company employees reassigned to such places may refuse to go, for the same reasons.

All this is despite adequate company policy; a poisonous atmosphere is not attractive.


April 6th, 2015

Apologies, Hunter. I was postulating from the perspective that said employee is reprimanded or fired for harassing coworkers and/or clients/customers, and has thus been harmed “merely” for expressing her religious beliefs at work. Even if the courts ultimately side with the company, the employee could tie them up in court, potentially for years, because the IN and AR RFRAs allow individuals to sue private (i.e. non-government) businesses. Best to avoid the litigation by petitioning for these laws to be blocked.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.