GLAAD Touts AT&T— T-Mobile Merger as ‘Social Justice’ in Bizarre Endorsement Letter to FCC

UPDATE: Statement from GLAAD regarding the following post appears at the end of this post.

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Check out the (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) GLAAD's bizarre letter (below) to the FCC on behalf of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger.

Glaad Among the odd arguments in the letter linking LGBT rights to 4G coverage:

First, there is the need to expand access so that each of us can have affordable, effective means of communication. As representatives of communities that historically have felt the sting of discrimination, we are acutely sensitive when certain segments of our nation are not able to participate fully in something that the majority takes for granted. We salute President Obama’s vision of an America in which everyone has high-speed access capable of meeting the demands of distance learning and telehealth programs.

And this:

The LGBT community has a longstanding commitment to all forms of social justice. That is why we look at the deployment of faster wireless Internet options not only from financial and technological viewpoints but also in terms of how this improves society.

John Aravosis at Americablog asks:

So why exactly is GLAAD, now, one week after we get screwed in Tennessee, in part by AT&T's own employee who was warned about this bill a good month ago and did nothing, writing public letters to the Obama administration on behalf of AT&T, on an issue that has nothing to do with gay or trans rights, for a company that outright refused to sign a joint letter to the governor of Tennessee calling for a veto of some of the most hateful anti-gay and anti-trans legislation of our time?"

Good question.

Queerty goes further:

Most interestingly, AT&T is against Net Neutrality—the principle stating that all information on the web should get delivered at the same speed, not at different speeds and prices depending on who owns the service). Timothy Karr, Campaign Director of Free Press and SavetheInternet.com says that “AT&T is brokering a deal with the FCC to ensure they have the legal right to block online content and charge application developers additional tolls just to reach AT&T customers.”

GLAAD says it doesn’t share AT&T’s stance on Net Neutrality which is a bit like Target saying it doesn’t share a Minnesota Republican’s anti-gay views while still supporting his pro-business campaign—GLAAD can’t support one without also supporting the other, whether they disagree or not.

Dan Savage concurs: "Why would GLAAD send this bizarre letter to the the Federal Communications Commission?"

Maybe the AT&T employee that sits on GLAAD's board has some insight.

As a side note, AT&T pulled ads this week from the talk show Jose Luis Sin Censura following a campaign launched earlier this year by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and GLAAD.

GLAAD ATT letter

UPDATE:

Towleroad received the following statement in response to reaction over the letter posted above.

Here is GLAAD's statement:

STATEMENT FROM GLAAD ON THE AT&T/T-MOBILE MERGER

Groups as diverse as the AFL-CIO and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce have spoken out in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The reason that GLAAD signed on to this letter with the understanding that this merger will increase functionality and speed, thus growing engagement and improving the effectiveness of the online advocacy work that is advancing our movement. GLAAD also stands behind the AFL-CIO and Pride at Work in believing that this merger will increase access to domestic partner benefits, family/medical/bereavement leave, and survivorship benefits for thousands of LGBT employees.  

The narrative that GLAAD does not demand action from corporate sponsors is entirely false. Many watchdog non-profits are in part funded by entities they monitor. It is a policy that is outlined on our site: http://www.glaad.org/about/transparency.

There are many examples from the past year of such work, including as recent as yesterday:

-AT&T and Time Warner Cable pulled advertising after GLAAD and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) asked advertisers to drop advertisements from Jose Luis Sin Censura, a Spanish-language talk show where the audience frequently chants the word f*ggot and violently assaults LGBT guests. This campaign is continuing.

-After NBC received a ‘failing’ grade on GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index, which measures the quantity and quality of LGBT characters, GLAAD wrote a highly critical letter about NBC/Comcast’s merger to the FCC.

-GLAAD placed a public call to action against CNN for repeatedly featuring anti-gay voices on the channel in the name of ‘balance’: www.glaad.org/tellcnn.  Last year, CNN’s Kyra Phillips debunked a myth about so-called ex-gay therapy put forth by a guest after GLAAD and community members demanded action.

-Last fall, GLAAD spoke out publically against an episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore that we described as “the most blatantly transphobic scenes aired anywhere on television”: MTV apologized and met with GLAAD to improve coverage of transgender people and edited the episode to remove the offensive material.

All of these media companies are sponsors of GLAAD. 

While these stories may grab headlines, much of GLAAD’s core work is on-the-ground trainings with local couples and allies to speak out in their communities and share their stories with voters in states where our equality is being debated. Couples like Shelly and Kristin of Oregon as well as Carol and Anne from Rhode Island. It’s these images and stories that we need in the minds of Americans if are to gain support for equality, and it’s this work that is more crucial than ever.  It is the GLAAD Media Awards and our corporate sponsors that fund these programs. 

***END OF STATEMENT***

Comments

  1. Suffern ACE says

    Yes. Telecommunication policy is exactly what I’d expect from GLAAD. Their position on securities regulation is next and I can’t wait to read it. Do they actually have such a sizeable staff that they can investigate these issues?

  2. Glenn says

    Damn, that is so off the wall it’s hard to believe there’s not some quid pro quo going on.

  3. Biff says

    Who is really surprised by this? It’s just GLAAD servicing their corporate donors.

  4. alex Parrish says

    i am appalled! I cannot imagine the convoluted thought-process that went into this. GLADD has just lost much credibility in my eyes (and, I suspect, the eyes of many) by such an unnecessary and clearly ill-concieved letter of support. Sad, really…

  5. Rowan says

    Hmm, think you guys are over reacting but this is nothing new.

    This letter was made public….so? They wanted everyone to see it and knew questions would be raised….

  6. avid says

    GLAAD has not be relevant for many years. Their purpose is so muddied that I am surprised any LGBT person supports their mission. GLAAD has lived off the aura of their first few years more than a decade ago when they actually had a impact and interest in their community they purport to represent. Good riddance.

  7. Rowan says

    It was and is always about money. What is there not to ‘get’?

    The key issue here is ‘does the end justify the means?’

    If GLAAD are successful at stoping anti gay campaigns in the media, pushing gay awareness in the media etc and this is measurable as successful campaigns with long term outcomes, in order to do this they would need a lot of money….

    But what is they aren’t getting this money for normal folk? What if this money comes to millions?

    I don’t know how GLAAD effectively works, so it’s hard to comment about what impact they have had as there are still so few out gay men or women and only GLEE really has an out gay main character on prime time TV.

    To pretend that these organizations don’t need to get in bed with slimy corporate businesses is naive at best or do they not need to?

    Again I don’t know how there system works.

    It’s much easier to see with say a cancer charity, what effect a board of powerful suits will have on the organisation from sponsoring a cancer walk, to funding a new cancer wing in a hospital to providing funding towards cancer research-this is all very measurable but with GLAAD, it’s all very fuzzy.

    If anyone knows, would be great to hear because I think discussing something like this intelligently is much more useful then just brandin them ‘evil’ or the ‘enemy’.

  8. JoeInSF says

    I am dumbfounded: why is GLAAD supporting a company that was put their profits before basic customer service (just talk to any urban AT&T iphone user about the number of dropped calls) and a company that threw us under the bus recently in Tennessee? GLAAD and HRC have become our pair of “good gay boys” who don’t hold people accountable.

  9. JKM says

    Has GLAAD gone off the rails? Obviously there is a lack of communication among the various organizations within the GLBT community that needs to be resolved so they can better vet these things stop stepping on each others toes and better coordinate their messages.

  10. Auntie says

    I think it’s more about Justin Nelson than anything. He’s a former lobbyist, and probably more interested in advancing the cause of big business as much as gay rights. Don’t forget that big corporations pay a lot of money to be associated with NLGCC.

  11. Justin L Werner says

    If GLAAD has decided it’s going to contribute to growing a company that’s already a near-monopoly, they’ve killed any chance of seeing donations from me. They have sold their collective soul on this.

  12. Samantha says

    I don’t object to this letter. It’s not like GLAAD is doing anything productive anyway, so sending this letter is no distraction to their non-work.

    Best line is how “LGBT Americans”* want exactly what “Americans in general” want. Well, if that’s the case, then why write in with an “LGBT” perspective?

    *There is no such thing as “LGBT”. LGBT is a fake concept pushed by orgs like GLAAD.

  13. avid says

    @Rowan….I guess you really do not watch a lot of TV…Have you seen Modern Family? The Good Wife? Each has a pair of gay characters.
    Desperate Housewives??? Brothers & Sisters?
    And that is not including anything on major cable networks: Games of Thrones, United States of Tara, Weeds…the list goes on and on and on.

  14. Rowan says

    AVID,

    All those people are main characters? Not on the side characters?

    Is it because of GLAAD? If it is then they ar doing something then arent they?

  15. Mike in Houston says

    ahem, so-called media organization… the plural of training is “training” not “trainings”.

  16. AG says

    It’s absolutely clear that a gay organization has no business weighing in on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. But since when did the “net neutrality” become a gay issue?

  17. says

    AT&T is one of the biggest corporate supporters of right wing candidates, so it is inexplicable to me that GLAAD (and the NGLCC for that matter) have thrown their support behind them.

    If they truly want to support a progressive cell phone company that ACTUALLY fights strongly for LGTB causes, they should throw their weight behind CREDO mobile. CREDO has donated over $65 million to progressive nonprofits since 1985. Members vote each year for the groups that will be funded and recent donations have gone out to ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, Global Fund for Women, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood.

    Some FACTS about AT&T (pulled from CREDO’s website) that should clarify the shame GLAAD should feel for throwing their support behind AT&T –

    AT&T gave a whopping $426,000 to House and Senate Tea Party Caucus members during the 2010 election cycle.

    AT&T repeatedly contributed to Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, the chief sponsor of legislation that would redefine rape and severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.

    AT&T gave $169,500 to the campaigns of global warming deniers elected to Congress in 2010.

    AT&T was among the top 10 PAC donors in the 2010 elections to Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, now infamous for his deceptive anti-union tactics.

    AT&T spent millions lobbying Congress and the FCC to exempt wireless from net neutrality regulations.

    AT&T gave more than $300,000 to right-wing Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

    AT&T throws fundraisers “honoring” some of our nation’s most odious politicians, including environmental outlaw Sen. David Vitter and the viciously anti-Muslim Rep. Pete King.

    AT&T gave the maximum contribution to elect George W. Bush not once but twice.

    AT&T supported the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008.

  18. Chuck says

    As a retired paralegal used to comparing contract language, I’m fascinated by GLAAD’s “defense” of their letter to the FCC.

    Let’s see: Apples: let two of the final four or five big cellphone suppliers combine (prices will surely go down and, of course, service will go through the roof; e.g., the Time Warner Cable/Comcast tradeoff of various areas so a cable monopoly remains in place.) and; Oranges: “look at all the ‘good work’ we do for gay folk like, um, what’s her name again?”

    GLAAD = Superfluous

  19. Bill says

    Shocking and depressing news. Disappointing behavior on the part of GLAAD’s management. And, by the way, I am gay and a customer of T-Mobile; I am TOTALLY against the merger with a notoriously inefficient company like AT&T. Is the fact that both CEOs are Cuban a coincidence?

  20. Lonnie says

    Notice that they represent themselves as “leaders” of the LGBT community. I never elected them. This is why we must oppose all national gay organizations. They have become obstacles to equality.

  21. says

    They sold their endorsement for this deal in exchange for what? This merger doesn’t help anyone except AT&T make more money.

    I’ve been covering Net Neutratlity since 2006, and have done a lot of research about how the loss of it would negatively impact minority voices, especially LGBT ones.

    I don’t know what kind of research GLAAD has done, but I’ve invited their people in their New York office to come on the show to further explain their position. You can’t take AT&T at their word.

    I think at the core here is: LGBT writers and activists might not understand the value of Net Neutrality despite their frequent use of a free internet. Also, they don’t understand how AT&T becoming a larger company would impact a free internet and our ability to access our content online or via our cell phones.

    AT&T’s behavior as a corporate citizen has been deplorable.

    It’s Time to Break Up AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and the rest of the telecoms. America is now 15th in the world in broadband. While Hong Kong and other countries are rolling out 1 gigabit speed services, America’s average is a mere 5 mbps.

    Save The Internet, one of the biggest advocates for a free net has a campaign “Don’t Believe The Fairytale.” I suggest you read it and inform yourself outside of what GLAAD has to say.

    http://www.savetheinternet.com/

  22. Toto says

    GLAAD must be fearing the day when same sex marriage and broad reaching equality is achieved. They have to find alternate ways to make money so why not whore themselves out as a LGBT brand for marketing purposes.

  23. Jeffrey Dunivant says

    Sorry, I’m not buying it! CREDO is the best. It’s on the Sprint network. Check it out and spread the word.

  24. wimsy says

    In keeping with my official policy not to encourage self-referential stupidity, GLADD is off my donation list.

  25. jamal49 says

    GLAAD is a glorified party juggernaut. As long as they can keep their A-List contributors and invite Hollywood stars and Washington politicos to their gala events, they’ll continue to ignore the LGBT community that is not rich, not well-connected and not attending the White Party in Palm Springs.

  26. says

    I’m sorry, but does no one see a legitimate connection between discrimination based on (in this case) sexual orientation and discrimination based on preferred nodes of information access? With a neutrality-free net, your carrier decides which page will load faster – Maxim or Towleroad. If you think you won’t wait much, much longer for Towleroad to load, you’re a naif.

    This is (sadly) one of the few modern political issues that a majority of us can stand behind together. Gun fanatics, religious extremists, document-leakers, boner pill shillers – this affects us all equally.

  27. clydest says

    Does this mean that if I accept an email on my ATT phone that I am now Gay? Get me Gloria Allred

  28. AdamEve NotAdamSteve says

    GLAAD is a joke…gays and lesbians do not deserve rights. They (GLAAD) has no business anywhere. I’m especially pissed when they get involved with things like the NBA (throwing a gay-tantrum over Joakim Noah calling some fan a faggot). This is our (straights) world, you’re just messing it up