we can hear you now

Exclusive! GLAAD Responds to Queerty’s Post Questioning AT&T Merger

Exclusive Statement to Queerty from GLAAD

This morning, Queerty asked ‘Why is GLAAD Supporting the AT&T and T-Mobile Merger?’ Unfortunately, they forgot to ask us first. For GLAAD, it’s about the results of the merger—an increase in phone functionality and speed. With better phone functionality, more people will be able to engage in social media and online LGBT advocacy.

Groups as diverse as the American Federation of Teachers, LULAC and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce have spoken out in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger for a variety of reasons.  Among the diverse views in support of the merger is Pride at Work, an LGBT contingency group of AFL-CIO, an organization affiliated with organized labor. They released a statement today detailing an angle that was not addressed in today’s earlier post about how this will impact LGBT workers.

The proposed AT&T / T-Mobile merger has significant impact for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers.  AT&T is a union business with a good record on LGBT issues.  In contrast, call center workers at T-Mobile have been fighting to form a union, but T-Mobile has been aggressively trying to stop them.

In a majority of states, workers can be legally fired or discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.  Because of the lack of federal employment protections and the lack of relationship recognition, a union is often the only protection for LGBT workers – and the most powerful way to have a voice on the job. As the only union cell phone company, AT&T has a policy of neutrality & majority sign-up recognition – allowing workers to freely make their own decisions about forming a union.

“The fact is that T-Mobile was put up for sale by its German parent company,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director for the Communications Workers of America and Pride at Work National Executive Board member.

“Only two companies were interested in buying T-Mobile: pro-union, pro-equality AT&T, and union-busting, jobs-outsourcing Sprint.  For T-Mobile employees, the future is much brighter at a pro-union company like AT&T that enshrines LGBT equality in a legally enforceable union contract,” Larson concluded.

For thousands of T-Mobile workers – and the LGBT employees in particular — this merger will make the difference in whether or not they have the opportunity to negotiate for fair and equal working conditions.  It will make the difference in the ability to negotiate for job security, domestic partner benefits, family, medical and bereavement leave and other workplace issues vital to LGBT and all workers.

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 to make life easier for thousands of LGBT employees.

As for Queerty’s commentary that GLAAD supports AT&T’s position on net neutrality, GLAAD does not – and has not- endorsed AT&T’s position on net neutrality. GLAAD believes that equal, fair and universal access to the internet is vital to our community and to our national dialogue.  While GLAAD does not take a position on particular legislation or regulations, we continue to believe in the importance of adhering to these values.

The notion that GLAAD does not demand action from corporate sponsors is entirely false, and we take these accusations extremely seriously. Like many other watchdog non-profits, we are in part funded by entities we monitor. More on our philosophy around protecting the integrity of our work is listed in our transparency statement on our site.

While today’s earlier post called attention to actions from years ago that Queerty disagreed with, the writer failed to inform readers of the very public instances when we have demanded – and received – action from our corporate sponsors, as recently 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 after GLAAD and community members demanded action, CNN’s Kyra Phillips debunked a myth about so-called “ex-gay” therapy put forth by a guest.
  • 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. We’ve worked with 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 we 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. In addition to being a fundraiser for this media work, the GLAAD Media Awards have become the most visible LGBT event in the nation and a platform for high-profile advocates to speak out for equality. This year videos of Russell Simmons and Rev. Al Sharpton speaking out for LGBT equality ran on Essence.com, and we worked with Naya Rivera of Glee to call for more transgender characters on television.

But we need the help of sites like Queerty and its readers to continue this work. When you see anti-LGBT content in the media, contact us at [email protected]. It’s because of incident reports and community participation that we were able to recently take the anti-gay AFA to task when Bryan Fischer stated being gay was “as dangerous as injection drug use” and to work with country music singer Blake Shelton to send a message to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers that anti-gay violence is unacceptable.”

These are the stories and messages that GLAAD is all about and will continue to be about.

To learn more about GLAAD’s recent work, please visit our blog at www.glaad.org/blog.