: AT&T, Charter Communications, GM and more donated to politicians backing anti-LGBTQ laws — and are now loudly celebrating Pride Month

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At least 25 major U.S. companies, including Amazon.com Inc., AT&T, Walmart, General Motors, Verizon and Charter Communications, have come out in vocal support for the LGBTQ community for Pride Month — while also donating more than $13 million since the start of 2021 to politicians who support anti-LGBTQ legislation.

That’s according to the Popular Information newsletter, which has been tracking both the many rainbow-flag-waving social media postings of the companies and the donations made by corporate PACs to the campaigns of those members of Congress who received the lowest ratings from the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBTQ advocacy group and political lobbying organization.

All 25 of the companies counted by Popular Information were highly rated in HRC’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index, but that’s because the methodology in determining the rankings does not include political donations, as the newsletter reported.

The advocacy group was not impressed.

“Touting your CEI score while donating to politicians who call us pedophiles is just not going to cut it,” Joni Madison, the HRC’s interim president, told Popular Information. “We need corporations to get off the sidelines and actually pick a side. We need every single person who cares about where this nation is headed to get off the sidelines and actually pick a side. Our side.”

Read more: Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow blasts GOP ‘groomer’ charges as a ‘hollow, hateful scheme’

Other advocacy groups have argued that it’s not in companies’ interests to undermine their LGBTQ workers and clients by failing to demonstrate true allyship.

“Corporate accountability does not begin and end with employee benefits and hiring practices — it extends to how a corporation spends its dollars, philanthropic and political,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of GLAAD, the LGBTQ media organization, in a statement released ahead of the start of Pride Month.

“It extends to how a corporation takes public stands and lobbies against anti-LGBTQ legislation, and how it supports and lobbies for pro-LGBTQ legislation, because this legislation impacts LGBTQ employees and consumers,” Ellis said.

That support is even more crucial right now, given the wave of more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced this year and the mental health crisis it has created for LGBTQ youth, she added.

“True corporate allies do not donate to candidates or elected officials who introduce, vote yes, or otherwise support anti-LBGTQ legislation or block passage of pro-LGBTQ legislation like the Equality Act,” Ellis said.

See now: Biden issues executive order to counter anti-LGTBQ laws around the country

Charter Communications Inc.
CHTR,
-8.81%

made the biggest donation of the group to such politicians, at $1.16 million. The company, which owns cable company Spectrum, kicked off Pride Month with a collection of LGBTQ-themed films for subscribers to enjoy.

The company’s donations comprise $584,775 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 52 members of Congress who have received a zero rating from HRC, and $148,250 to state legislators in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation. 

The latter sum includes a $100,000 donation to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican who this year signed two bills hostile to gay and transgender people, including one that forces trans children to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth, as well as bans talk of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through fifth grade deemed “not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

Charter did not respond to a request for comment from Popular Information and did not respond to a similar request from MarketWatch.

See also: Amazon, Microsoft, McDonald’s and Citi to examine their impact on civil rights and racial equity. Will more companies follow suit?

AT&T
T,
-3.63%

made the second biggest donation to these politicians since 2021, the newsletter found, at $1.05 million. That money comprised at least $598,000 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of members of Congress who got zero ratings from HRC and $250,000 to the Republican Governors Association, or RGA. It gave $204,000 to state politicians who were behind anti-LGBTQ legislation in Utah, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

At the state level, the company donated $100,000 to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who has sought to investigate for possible child abuse the parents of transgender youth who have received certain medically accepted gender-affirming care. That effort was temporarily blocked last week by a Texas judge after challenges brought by parents who described the distress caused to their children, as the Associated Press reported.

See: Florida Republicans’ feud with Mickey Mouse highlights the widening gap between corporate America and the GOP

AT&T also donated $10,000 to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, who opined that the use of “puberty-blocking drugs” for children “can legally constitute child abuse.”

And AT&T donated $50,000 to Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has signed legislation widely known as “Don’t Say Gay” into law to ban any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity not deemed “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” through the third grade. The policy has drawn fire from critics who say it marginalizes LGBTQ people, is vaguely worded and could affect how history lessons are taught and families discussed.

AT&T did not respond to requests for comment from Popular Information and MarketWatch.

See now: Campaign-finance experts unsurprised as U.S. companies resume political contributions paused after Jan. 6 insurrection

General Motors Co.
GM,
-8.46%

came in third, having donated at least $1.03 million since 2021 to politicians supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation, according to the newsletter.

GM gave at least $605,000 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of members of Congress who have received a zero rating from HRC. GM also donated $125,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, $300,900 to the RGA, and $1,000 to state legislators behind anti-LGTBQ legislation in Kentucky.

Unlike most of the other names on the list, GM did offer a comment to Popular Information.

“The GM employee-funded PAC supports the election of U.S. federal and state candidates from both sides of the aisle who foster sound business policies, support American workers and understand the importance of a robust domestic auto industry as we pursue an all-electric vehicle future,” the company told Popular Information. “GM is vocal about our commitment to the LGBTQ community in our company’s policies and we are a signatory of the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation.”

Among other names, Walmart
WMT,
+1.57%

has donated $954,250 since 2021 to politicians who backed anti-LGBTQ legislation, Amazon
AMZN,
-4.45%

has given $560,550 and Verizon
VZ,
-1.13%

has donated $559,762, the newsletter reported.

Walmart, Amazon and Verizon did not respond to requests for comment from Popular Information and MarketWatch.

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