AT&T/GLAAD Controversy: Final Straw? Or Opportunity for Reform?
GLAAD’s apparent AT&T back scratching isn’t unique. On Saturday, the Boston Globe wrote a staff editorial condemning the controversy, noting that AT&T-sponsored orgs like the NAACP and the National Education Association also wrote letters supporting the merger.
"Clearly, some activist groups have grown a little too fond of their corporate backers, at a cost to their credibility," the editorial read. "Shilling for AT&T makes them seem more like paid lobbyists than clarions of justice ... Barrios’ decision to step aside was a step in the right direction. But these organizations must do much more to regain the public’s trust, and all nonprofits should take the opportunity to clarify their relationships with corporate sponsors."
GLAAD Communications Director Rich Ferraro defended the organization against criticism it is too cozy with corporate sponsors. "To suggest that our loyalty lies with corporate sponsors and not the LGBT community is inaccurate," he said. He cited GLAAD’s disagreement with AT&T on net neutrality and instances when it has called out sponsors for airing anti-gay material.
GLAAD wasn’t even the only gay organization to support the merger. In the wake of the controversy, at least one organization has gone out of its way to make a link between the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and the LGBT community. Pride at Work, a nonprofit advocating for queer rights in unions, recently outlined its reasons for support.
"For regular working people, the ability to secure LGBT-inclusive benefits in a union contract is a vital priority," said Executive Director Peggy Shorey. She applauded AT&T’s inclusion of LGBT employees and domestic partners in insurance benefits and at the bargaining table. "This merger matters for the LGBT people who work at AT&T and T-Mobile right now and for the wireless industry, which will for the first time have a majority a LGBT-inclusive, union workforce. This should be one of the highest priorities of our movement."