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Not everyone is pleased with General Motors’ support for Pride

Friday, June 22, 2012
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. — LGBT employees and allies at the General Motors truck assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., celebrated this year’s Pride with a rainbow flag raised at the factory on Sunday.

The plant’s manager approved flying the pride flag at the request of an employee group representing LGBT workers, the company said.

GM pride on display at Detroit headquarters.

But not everyone however was pleased by the company’s show of support for its LGBT employees.

In a column published in the local newspaper, the News Sentinel, columnist Kevin Leininger criticized the GM plant manager’s decision in a column headlined, “Is GM ‘Gay Motors’ now?”

“Whether that represents a gesture of tolerance and respect or a slap in the face to traditionally minded employees is a matter of considerable debate,” he wrote.

A few of the plant’s other employees also complained, garnering the attention of the United Auto Workers union, which represents the factory’s workers.

“The UAW opposes all discrimination and believes there is a definite connection between civil, human and workers’ rights,” the union said in a statement supporting the display of the flag.

Company spokeswoman Stephanie Jentgen said the GM plant is keeping the flag up until Saturday evening, when it will come down on schedule. She added that the pride flag went up as part of a plan by the factory to fly flags representing different company groups for a week each.

“GM is a really diverse company and we’ve always been supportive of all our employees,” Jentgen said, noting that the plant has received supportive feedback as well as criticism. “We have this stereotype of being backwards here. But the dialog has been very constructive. It’s been very heartening, even talking to the folks who don’t agree.”

GM has been reaching out to the LGBT community during Pride month in several notable shows of its support.

Earlier this month, GM transformed the LED-display atop its Detroit headquarters into a rainbow (pictured) in honor of the city’s annual gay pride celebration.

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