Backlash as Ford drops gay media

Gay and lesbian organisations have asked Ford to reinstate advertising for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications and to distance itself from an anti-gay group that boycotted the company's vehicles.

    The Volvo brand continues to advertise in gay publications

    Ford officials met leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and other organisations in Washington DC on Monday, after the car manufacturer said last week that it would no longer advertise its luxury brands in gay publications.


    The move came almost a week after the American Family Association (AFA), based in Tupelo, Mississippi, cancelled its boycott of Ford vehicles.


    The AFA started its boycott in May amid criticism that the nation's second-largest car manufacturer was too gay-friendly.


    Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Ford was asked to "make a very strong statement" disassociating itself from the AFA while reinstating the Jaguar and Land Rover advertising in the gay press.


    No pressure


    Ford has said it did not make the decision because of the boycott or pressure from conservative Christian groups.


    It said Jaguar and Land Rover, part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, cut back on its marketing across the board because of difficult market conditions.


    The Premier Automotive Group posted a pre-tax loss of $108 million in the third quarter.


    Ford said in a statement it was "always willing to engage in constructive conversation with those interested in our policies, even with those who don't always agree with them. But only Ford Motor Company speaks for Ford Motor Company. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect".


    The car maker said: "During these budget-tightening times, our brands must make tough choices where to advertise and how to spend limited sponsorship dollars."


    The statement did not mention the AFA.


    Adverts continue


    Ford said last week that its Volvo brand would continue to advertise in gay publications. The company has not advertised its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands in similar outlets.


    "We value all people - regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences"

    Bill Ford,
    Ford chairman and CEO

    Bill Ford, chairman and chief executive of Ford, said in a statement: "We value all people - regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences."


    Ford told gay rights leaders that it had not made any deal with the AFA to stop advertising Jaguar and Land Rover in gay media.


    Donald Wildmon, chairman of the AFA, said last month that the group was ending its boycott.


    "While we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future," he said.


    Corporate equality


    Ford has been credited for providing an inclusive work environment for gays and lesbians, and it was the only car maker to receive a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's corporate equality index in 2004 and 2005.


    The survey considers policies and practices towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.


    Ford, General Motors Corp and DaimlerChrysler AG introduced same-sex domestic partner benefits in 2000.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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