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GLAAD withdraws support for AT&T merger, affirms supports ‘net neutrality’

Friday, July 15, 2011
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The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) this week notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) it was withdrawing its support for the pending AT&T merger with T-Mobile.

In a letter to the FCC, GLAAD said it was returning to a “neutral” position with respect to the merger, and said that it now strongly supports the tenets of net neutrality.

The letter was filed by Mike Thompson, GLAAD’s Acting President following extensive discussion among GLAAD leadership and supporters.

“A rigorous review process considered GLAAD’s unique mission and concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD’s work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media,” said Thompson.

In affirming GLAAD’s support for the principle of net neutrality, Thompson wrote in the FCC letter: “GLAAD is a strong supporter of the general principle of net neutrality. Although this letter is not specific to any proposed or existing regulatory or legislative standards, we acknowledge that net neutrality is one of the principles most responsible for the Internet’s emergence as the dominant platform for free expression.

“A nondiscriminatory and neutral Internet has allowed new digital media initiatives and the blogosphere itself to flourish online.

“Net neutrality has cultivated the plethora of online resources available to otherwise isolated LGBT Americans seeking help with coming out, coping with and countering discrimination, suicide and HIV/AIDS prevention resources, community building and political organizing tools, and general self-expression. GLAAD’s own work has been effective thanks in large part to net neutrality.”

In June, GLAAD President Jarrtt Barrios and eight board members resigned under increasing scrutiny of GLAAD’s endorsement of AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile, and conflicting statements related to net neutrality rules.

GLAAD was among a number of progressive groups with no obvious institutional interest in telecom issues who received money from AT&T and subsequently issued public statements supporting the merger.

A previous letter from GLAAD to the FCC opposed possible net neutrality rules. GLAAD later rescinded the letter, claiming it was sent in error. Eventually, Barrios admitted he had sent the letter.

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