AT&T; just sent Joe a statement in response to our series of blog posts about their work, via the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry, of which they are a board member, to repeal gay/trans rights protections in Nashville and to ban municipalities in the state from passing any future civil rights laws.
In relation to your blog posts on HB 600/SB 632 in Tennessee, please see below a statement from AT&T; that you can attribute to Chris Walker, Spokesman for AT&T.; We would appreciate your consideration in any further posts on the subject.
“AT&T; does not support any laws or efforts that are discriminatory. AT&T; does support the principals of ensuring that state and local laws are consistent, which is the stated purpose of HB 600/SB 632. However, the bill has become implicated in efforts to erode the rights of the gay community, which we do not support. AT&T; has a long history and longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its policies address diversity in areas including race, creed, religion, sex, and particularly sexual orientation. In fact, DiversityInc has ranked AT&T; in its Top 10 Companies for LGBT employees, and we were honored to be recognized as one of the ‘2010 Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality’ by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. We are proud of our commitment to this community.”
A few points:
1. At least AT&T; has issued a statement. Where are Nissan, FedEx, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare?
2. That’s nice that AT&T; has a record of being pro-gay. That was before the chamber of commerce, of which they’re a board member, decided to repeal gay and trans rights laws. That decidedly not pro-gay. In fact, it’s downright odd that a company that prides itself on being pro-gay and diverse is so worried about a simple city ordinance that requires the company not to discriminate against its gay and trans employees. After all, if AT&T; were so diverse and so pro-gay, they’d already be abiding by the letter of the Nashville law, so why would they need to repeal it?
3. Now we get to the good stuff. AT&T; says that the “stated purpose” of HB 600/SB 632 was unrelated to gay-bashing. But now the bill has “become implicated,” whatever that means, with anti-gay politics.
The bill was created by a religious right group that wanted to repeal Nashville’s civil rights ordinance. What part of that did AT&T; not get when its chamber of commerce in Tennessee joined the effort to pass the religious right’s bill? The lead lobbyist on the bill was the religious right group. AT&T; didn’t realize that when it started lobbying on the bill too – sure they didn’t. And I’m sure they had no idea they were going to repeal civil rights protections for gay and transgender Americans either, because AT&T; couldn’t find any lawyers to explain what the bill was really going to do.
But let’s take AT&T; at its word. Let’s say that they now suddenly realize that the legislation is intended to, and will, erode the rights of the gay and trans community. What does AT&T; plan on doing about that? Tick tock, the governor is about to sign the bill into law.
I know what you can plan to do about it. Sign our open letter to these companies, and have your friends do the same on Twitter and Facebook.