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Corporate America: gay dollars and employees are valued

Let’s start off with more good news:

Bank of America board slaps down shareholder anti-gay proposal
Another winger proxy issue comes to vote at a corporate shareholder meeting (see earlier post on Kraft blowing off its stockholder fundie).

This time it’s Bank of America, and its board has recommended the rejection of Louisiana shareholder Virginia M. Brown’s proposal which would require BoA’s management to “amend its written equal opportunity policy to explicitly exclude reference to sexual orientation.”

Look at WingNutDaily‘s bleating spin.

A Louisiana shareholder, Virginia M. Brown (owner of 306 shares of Bank of America stock) calls for shareholders to vote in favor of her initiative where the “sexual interests, inclinations and activities (of) employees should be a private matter, not a corporate concern,” concluding that sexual orientation provisions are not needed for the bank’s human resources guidelines. Calls from WND requesting her comments, were not returned.

Thomas Strobhar, from the group Citizen Action Now, submitted the proposal on behalf of the Louisiana shareholder. Strobhar, the director of CAN, said by phone he believes the bank’s human resources policies do not have to include “sexual orientation” in defending the rights of homosexual employees or applicants. He points out that many Fortune 500 companies already have rules and regulations in place to protect the private interests of its staff. He says that by bringing up sexual issues in the workplace companies like Bank of America open the door in the future to other problems (i.e., cross dressing, sexual harassment and dress code violations).

Bank of America’s board of directors has recommended to its shareholder to avoid adopting the proposal, reasoning that exclusion of the “sexual orientation” terminology would not be in the best interests of the bank. In their statement to shareholders, the directors cautioned them by saying “if the change requested … is adopted the (company) might face costly lawsuits that could diminish shareholder value.”

This is the trend, you bigots out there. Corporate America is voting to back its LGBT employees and to court gay dollars. You are losing the culture “war” because fairness wins, and fairness is profitable.

In an article up on, Plugged In: Gay rights are good business, no matter the politics, it presents a bible-beater nightmare of progress for gay rights that should give Don Wildmon of the AFA agita (since his days and nights are consumed with ways to boycott his “values” into the corporate boardrooms of the country).

More than 80 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 now ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Some 249 of the Fortune 500 offer health and other benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees. That’s up from just 28 a decade ago.

Last year, Wal-Mart, America’s biggest employer, agreed to support a network for its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) workers, joining such firms as Citigroup, DuPont and IBM. All these trends are moving in one direction – towards more rights for gay and lesbian people.

This is remarkable, given the setbacks that gay rights have taken in the political arena, especially around the issue of gay marriage.

Corporate America is ahead of government in providing equal treatment for GLBT people because it knows that fairness is good for business,” declares Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights group.

…Shareholder groups that favor gay rights, led by New York City’s pension funds and socially responsible investors, filed resolutions this year at more than 20 companies, asking them to expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Most agreed, but some – notably ExxonMobil, the biggest company in America by revenues – oppose the idea. ExxonMobil says the resolution is unnecessary because it has existing “zero-tolerance” policies that ban “discrimination or harassment for any reason, including sexual orientation.”

…Other companies opposing resolutions that ask them to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation include Leggett & Platt, a diversified manufacturer based in Carthage, Missouri, and Amsouth, a regional bank based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Meredith Benton of Walden Asset Management, which filed with Leggett & Platt, says, “You want to be sure you have access to the best and brightest employees. That is most sucessfully done when you have an inclusive workplace.”

And the article notes that most of these winger proposal to remove or prevent anti-discrimination language pertaining to gay and lesbian employees go nowhere, and what’s even more impressive, the votes in some cases aren’t even close.

Meanwhile, shareholders filed resolutions asking American Express, Bank of America and Ford to consider taking sexual orientation out of their anti-discrimination policies.

Yes, there’s a backlash underway. The Amex resolution, which was defeated Monday, says, among other things, that “domestic partner benefit policies pay people who engage in homosexual sex acts, which were illegal in this country for hundreds of years, and have been proscribed by the major traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedism for a thousand years or more.”

Interestingly, at Amex, the supporters of the anti-gay resolution could muster only 2 percent of the vote. Backers of gay rights at Exxon last year got 29 percent.

As if we give a sh*t about vile Exxon. We’ve already got this poster child to remind us why that company shouldn’t get a dime from any Americans, let alone homo dollars:

Former CEO Lee Raymond‘s receiving a $400 million platinum retirement parachute, with a fat pension, stock options and perks that include a $1 million consulting deal, home and personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for “professional purposes.” When he testified to Congress last year about price gouging after Katrina, he saidwe’re all in this together.” Indeed.

* Jeremy of Good As You blogs about Bank of America.
* Bank of America’s staff survey on sexual orientation

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding