Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) made history last week as the first organisation for families and allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to ring The Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

PFLAG’s says its trip to Wall Street to “ring the closing bell on homophobia,” was an opportunity for the group to discuss the exponentially growing reach of the buying power of LGBT Americans when coupled with the purchasing force of their families and friends.

“The purchasing power of the LGBT community is estimated today to be a massive $641 billion, with projections reaching $1 trillion by 2012,” said Jody Huckaby, PFLAG’s executive director. “Add in the buying power of the millions of family members and friends who show fierce allegiance to fair-minded corporations, and you get a message that no company can afford to ignore: equality is good for business.

“This economic clout and product loyalty is only going to grow. We are here to give the business world this wake-up call and to help companies compete.”

PFLAG leaders said they visited the New York Stock Exchange to drive this point home to corporations around the globe. They brought new research to back their arguments that reveals that more than three-fourths of Americans personally know someone who is GLBT and those consumers are more likely than others to support companies that market to the gay and lesbian community.

“Equality in corporate America is more than just a trend. It is a reality that companies both large and small need to support in order to remain competitive. This is about much more than just GLBT people themselves. This is about the families, friends, coworkers, and other supporters who will be loyal to companies who invest in fairness for their GLBT loved ones, and that translates into employee loyalty, consumer base expansion and big economic gains today and in the years to come,” Ms Huckaby added.

The organisation pointed to the expanding number of companies, including nearly half of Fortune 500 corporations, that embrace GLBT-friendly practices including domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policies, and financial support for organizations working to promote equality.

“There are thousands of parents just like me who will shop and spend with companies who support equality for my lesbian daughter,” said Samuel Thoron, president of PFLAG who rang The Closing Bell. “This is our opportunity to make sure that these corporations know that we’re here, that we’re paying attention, and that we influence their bottom line.”

Corporations supporting PFLAG’s appearance at the New York Stock Exchange included American Airlines, Chubb, the Citigroup Foundation, Dow, IBM, Logo, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Pfizer, and Wyndham Hotels Resorts.

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