Ford Motor Company executives have agreed to meet with leaders of gay rights organizations next week to discuss allegations that the automaker’s decision to pull advertisements for its Land Rover and Jaguar lines from gay publications was prompted by pressure from the anti-gay American Family Association.
“We look forward to the dialogue with the leadership of the gay community,” said Ford spokesman Mike Moran.
Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the group would ask Ford to explain why it dropped the ads and encourage company officials to reconsider their decision.
The meeting between the automaker and leaders from 19 gay-rights organizations comes one week after those organizations issued a joint statement condemning media reports of a “confidential agreement” between Ford and the AFA.
In May, the foundation called for a boycott of Ford because of the automaker’s sponsorship of Gay Pride events, donations to gay rights organizations and diversity workshops for managers that included sexual orientation training. The association also called for boycotts against Walgreeen Co. and Kraft Foods for those companies’ sponsorship of the Chicago Gay Games, an Olympic type sporting event to take place next year.
Late last week, another conservative group, Focus on the Family, closed its accounts at Wells Fargo because the bank had donated money to a gay rights organization that announced it would use the money to “fight the anti-gay industry.”
Ford announced last Monday that it was dropping its ads in gay publications because of budget constraints, but the announcement came just days after the AFA officially ended its boycott of the automaker.
“They’ve heard our concerns; they are acting on our concerns,” Donald E. Wildmon, chairman and founder of the association, said in a statement announcing the end of the boycott. “We are pleased with where we are.”
On Monday, Moran said that Ford would no longer advertise the Land Rover and Jaguar lines in gay publications, although the Volvo brand would continue to do so.
A Ford company statement released this week said the automaker’s “commitment to diversity as an employer and corporate citizen remains unchanged. We have employment policies that are second to none regarding our commitment to inclusion. Any suggestion to the contrary is just plain wrong.