A newly-launched national initiative is calling on corporations that receive top equality ratings from the Human Rights Campaign to stop financially supporting anti-LGBTQ members of Congress.
Zero for Zeros Campaign, which launched in June, uses public information from the Federal Election Commission to track political contributions from corporate PACs of companies assigned a perfect rating by the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which evaluates the impact of big business’ policies and procedures on the LGBTQ community. The scorecard analyzes organizations based on factors including “organizational competency in LGBT inclusion,” public commitment and equal benefits.
Data compiled by Zero for Zeros that dates back to 2010 shows that Republican Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Kelly has received more than $386,000 from the PACs of major companies including Amazon, Capital One, Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Financial Services, Wells Fargo and T-Mobile. Kelly was sworn into office to represent Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District on Jan. 5, 2011.
Kelly co-sponsored 2015 anti-LGBT legislation that aims to update the Constitution with a “Marriage Protection Amendment” that states “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”
“There is an inconsistency between corporations that are absolutely bonified allies to the LGBT community, yet their corporate PAC is supporting these folks who would roll back the progress that we fought so hard to win and they're blocking the work that we still need to do,” said Lane Hudson, Zero for Zeros campaign manager.
“You can not be acceptable in public service if you are going to be attacking the LGBT community,” he added. “We are the same as every other American.”
Other politicians who have received donations from these companies include Maryland State Rep. Andy Harris, who co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit federal civil rights laws applying the terms “gender” and “sex” to gender identity, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who pushed for legislation that would legalize federal discrimination of LGBTQ people.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims, the first out candidate to hold the position, wrote an Aug. 16 op-ed for the Advocate supporting the project and calling on corporations to stop funding politicians with anti-LGBTQ stances.
In Sims’ opinion piece, the state representative cites major players in the Equinox/SoulCycle brand hosting a multimillion-dollar fundraiser for President Trump and past anti-LGBT sentiments from Hobby Lobby and Domino’s Pizza in making him more attentive of his own spending habits.
“I’ve been learning a great deal more lately about how our corporate allies spend our dollars and, in fact, some of the ‘best’ allies to the LGBTQ community contribute to the worst of the worst anti-LGBTQ members of Congress,” Sims wrote in the Advocate.
Sims could not be reached for comment.
Hudson said he hopes Zero for Zeros changes the way corporate America treats politicians condemning queer people. He added he doesn’t want corporations to respond defensively to the campaign, and wants them to understand the politicians they are monetarily supporting are the ones at fault.
The danger lies in having “young, impressionable people” who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity seeing major politicians using anti-LGBT rhetoric in the public eye, Hudson said.
“They take it personally and they feel hurt by it,” he told PGN. “They may not know that Microsoft or AT&T or Google give them money, but what they don't see is anyone standing up to them. If we can make a statement by getting those companies to say we're not going to give to those candidates who say those awful things, then they will know that somebody's got their back and they could make a difference in that young kid's life.”