Report: Companies Wave the Rainbow Flag for Pride, Fund Anti-LGBTQ Politicians

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday June 16, 2021

An investigative report has uncovered more than two dozen companies that wave the rainbow flag during Pride Month but contribute to anti-LGTBQ politicians, Jezebel has reported.

"Corporate rebrandings for Pride month — rainbow Twitter avatars, cringe-inducing ads, you name it — are cynical enough on their own, contributing to the commercialization and depoliticization of the movement for gay liberation," Jezebel notes, adding that, at the same time, a number of such companies are also "actively funding efforts to restrict the rights of those they claim to support."

The initial report was posted by Popular Information, which "found that 25 major corporations have spent more than $10 million since 2019 supporting members of Congress with a zero rating on the latest Congressional scorecard produced by the Human Rights Campaign. ... These same corporations have also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to state legislators who have sponsored anti-trans legislation this year."

The disconnect in the favorable ratings by the HRC's Corporate Equality Index for companies that give to anti-LGTBQ lawmakers is the result of "HRC's methodology," Popular Information explained, which "excludes political donations, enabling corporations to craft a pro-LGBTQ image while bankrolling politicians that are undermining LGBTQ rights."

Case in point: Pharmacy chain CVS Health, to which HRC awarded a perfect score, and which posted a rainbow heart on its Twitter page for Pride Month.

As Popular Information pointed out, CVS "tweeted that it was 'proud to join more than 100 companies that have signed HRC's Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation," even though "through its corporate PAC, CVS Health has recently supported the sponsors of anti-trans legislation in Texas, North Carolina, and Tennessee, including legislation that would criminalize providing gender-affirming medical care to adults and children."

The outlet noted that CVS Health contributed to Texas lawmakers who proposed a bill that would label parents who seek gender-affirming medical care for their trans sons and daughters as child abusers, which would put them at risk of losing their kids, while physicians "who provide such care could be 'accused of child abuse, which would trigger a license investigation by the Texas Medical Board.'"

The company similarly donated to two anti-LGBTQ lawmakers in North Carolina. On the federal level, Popular Information reported, "CVS Health has also donated $259,000 to 54 members of Congress who received a zero rating in HRC's Congressional scorecard for the 116th Congress. In the House, that meant voting against the Equality Act."

Similarly, Comcast — which has gone so far as to create an online "virtual 'Pride World'" in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — "has donated more than $1.1 million to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2019. This includes more than $30,000 to the sponsors of anti-trans legislation introduced this year in Florida and Texas."

Companies cited by Public Information as rainbow washing their support for anti-LGBTQ lawmakers include Amazon, AT&T, Ford, General Motors, Google, The Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan, UPS, and Walgreens, among others.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.