Companies like Coca-Cola have admirably spoken out against laws in North Carolina and Mississippi, but they are donating money and services to support the Republican national convention, scheduled for July in Cleveland. It promises to be a shit show, with two prejudice spewing candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, vying for the nomination of a political party that is widely acknowledged (even among insiders) to have lost its way. Trump has promised to overturn same-sex marriage. Cruz, for his part, supports the North Carolina law that mandates where transgender people can use the restroom and uses surrogate speakers who regularly demean LGBTQ people and some have gone so far as to call for gays to be executed or imprisoned.
While Coke has slashed the amount it is giving this year to $75,000 from the $600,000 they gave the 2012 convention, that’s still money that will be used to actively advocate against everyone who is not an angry white male voter. This is enabling behavior, and the companies need to answer some hard questions – even though they may be donating to the Democratic convention as well.
Put aside for a moment the nasty campaigns of the two leading contenders because the problem in the Republican Party goes much deeper. During the convention, the party’s platform is decided and passed – and it always includes anti-LGBTQ planks from religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws.
Not only did delegates to the 2012 convention reject language that said all Americans should be treated “equally under the law” because of its suggestion that LGBT people should have full employment rights, they also included condemnations of same-sex marriage equality and strong language advocating for a federal constitutional amendment to actively discriminate against LGBT people written by hate group leader Tony Perkins.
Delegates included language defending anti-gay laws in Africa like Uganda’s proposed “Kill the Gays” legislation, attempted to undermine the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as “the use of military as a platform for social experimentation,” and called for “vigorous” enforcement of anti-pornography laws.
Perkins, who has ties to the Klu Klux Klan, has crowed that he has already been selected to be on the party platform committee again this election cycle. His organization, the Family Research Council, has been one of the lead organizations defending the atrocious laws that these “equality minded” CEOs are opposing.
“In 2012, my role as a delegate gave me the opportunity to play a key role in amending the marriage plank, which led to the committee approving a much stronger version than 2008’s,” Perkins wrote to supporters. “While the platform work is usually overshadowed by the pageantry of the broader convention, make no mistake: What happens over those two days could dramatically impact the direction of — not just the presidential campaign — but the entire Republican Party and the country.”
Coca-Cola isn’t alone facing this dilemma: How can corporations, the epitome of the American mainstream, support such vile language, while trying to woo diverse groups of consumers – not to mention workers – worldwide. The CEO’s of Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Pfizer, Google and General Electric all signed on to the open letter opposing discrimination. All of those companies gave big bucks to the GOP in 2012.
The question now is, will they do it again this year?