August 23, 2014
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LGBT-friendly businesses continue to increase
Posted on Aug 6, 2013 | by Staff/WORLD News Service

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WASHINGTON (BP) -- The list of major companies with policies favorable to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees is long and quickly growing.

"Companies that actively and openly affirm homosexuality as a valid choice of life and behavior are failing to recognize the toll that homosexual unions will take on society if they become fully legitimated." -- Rob Schwarzwalder
The latest annual report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) shows nearly 300 of the country's Fortune 500 businesses offer workplaces with insurance, employment and retirement policies friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) workers.

When HRC released its first Corporate Equality Index a decade ago, only 13 companies made the list.

"The numbers are irrefutable: The more successful a business is in the United States, the more likely it is to embrace equality," HRC President Chad Griffin wrote in a letter accompanying the report.

But Rob Schwarzwalder, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, believes LGBT-friendly companies miss a bigger picture in light of current profit.

"Companies that actively and openly affirm homosexuality as a valid choice of life and behavior are failing to recognize the toll that homosexual unions will take on society if they become fully legitimated," he said. "They are, in my view, looking for social acceptance and quick profit ahead of principle."

Of the country's top 20 businesses, 13 received perfect scores from HRC, meaning they offer homosexual and transgender protection policies, equal spousal and insurance benefits to married homosexuals, training for employees on LGBT issues and public support for LGBT groups.

Chevron, Fortune's No. 3 company, topped the list of LGBT-inclusive companies, with General Motors, Bank of America, Ford Motor Co. and AT&T following closely behind.

Not all companies have jumped on the rainbow train, however. Both Walmart and Exxon Mobil, Fortune's top two companies, received less-than-perfect scores. In fact, Exxon Mobil received a negative 25 for supporting conservative groups that oppose homosexuality. The oil company, the only firm in the survey that received a score less than zero, doesn't promote any of the provisions listed in the survey, retaining its right to deny employee benefits to homosexual partners.

Other companies, such as Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, have taken public stances on conservative issues such as traditional marriage or the federal government's abortion/contraception mandate. Schwarzwalder said he wasn't sure what effects that will have on those companies' futures.

"Exxon, Interstate Batteries, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, and a handful of other companies have basically said, 'No, we're not going to buckle.' Whether or not that becomes something of an economic difficulty for them we don't know," he said.

But increased pressure on conservative shoppers may produce more events like the Chick-fil-A appreciation day, Schwarzwalder said.

"You might see a backlash that goes quite the other way," he said, "where people of Christian faith come forward and say ..., 'We're going to stand with companies that represent our values.'"

HRC describes itself as the country's largest organization working for LGBT civil rights.
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Reported by WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine (www.worldmag.com). Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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