HUNT VALLEY, Md. (SBG) — A number of corporations are signaling their support for the LGBTQ movement via social media, but a closer look reveals mixed messaging.
Several multinational companies are displaying rainbow-themed imagery on their social media apps in countries like the U.S., where the LGBTQ movement is popular, but not in the Middle East, where same-sex marriage is illegal. In other cases, companies that advocate for LGBTQ people have donated to lawmakers who oppose the LGBTQ agenda in various states.
The companies with discrepancies in their social media logos or posts include Sephora, car-makers Mercedes-Benz, and BMW, and technology companies Cisco, Lenovo, and Bethesda. None responded to Sinclair's request for comment.
Around three in four Americans support laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. However, gay marriage is legal in only 29 countries, none of which are located in the Middle East, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, people who engage in same-sex sexual activity can be put to death, according to the U.S. State Department.
Israel is an exception. Although Israel doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages performed within the country, it has, since 2006, recognized same-sex marriages performed abroad, per the State Department. Israel also prohibits employment discrimination for LGBTQ people and allows them to have social security and adopt children. Tel Aviv, Israel featured one of the world’s largest Gay Pride parades in 2015, according to MSNBC.
AT&T has made significant donations to lawmakers who oppose the LGBTQ agenda. The company decorates its social media pages with rainbows, but data from the National Institute on Money in Politics, compiled by Corporate Accountability Action, show AT&T also has donated $204,350 to 133 lawmakers that oppose LGBTQ initiatives.
One large 2020 donation from AT&T went to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Federal Election Commission Data compiled by Open Secrets. McConnell blocked the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in employment, housing, public bathrooms, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and other areas.
“AT&T donated $56,295 to Mitch McConnell’s 2020 campaign — while he was actively blocking the Equality Act,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., recently tweeted. “But what a great Pride Twitter banner,” she added.
When NBC inquired about whether McConnell would bring the Equality Act to a vote in 2019, his press secretary responded over email, “If the Leader issues a statement on this I’ll be sure to forward it to you."
An AT&T spokesperson said the company's "employee PACs contribute to policymakers in both major parties, and it will not agree with every PAC dollar recipient on every issue.”
The spokesperson added in the emailed statement, “We’re proud of our corporate value to Stand for Equality and our diverse team of employees, including our LGBTQ+ colleagues. We support the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project and other organizations that advocate for full civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community. We also support passage of the Equality Act."
Other companies that have made similar political donations despite promoting the LGBTQ movement include General Motors and Coca-Cola, per Rolling Stone.
In an emailed statement, Coca-Cola said, "In the fall of 2020, we updated our political contributions criteria to specify Equality and Inclusion as one of the aspects we use to evaluate candidates. We call out the LGBTQ community as part of that Equality and Inclusion criteria. We are also transparent about what we give." The company noted that its political giving has been on pause since January.
General Motors did not respond to Sinclair's request for comment.