President of gay group GLAAD resigns
The president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has resigned over a letter of support for AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile.
Jarrett Barrios, a former Massachusetts senator, stepped down on Saturday after two years in the role.
GLAAD has come under increasing pressure over its support for AT&T’s acquisition and for another letter on the Federal Communications Committee’s proposed rules on net neutrality.
The letter supporting AT&T, sent last month, claimed that communities which have “felt the sting of discrimination” are in special need of high-speed internet to “participate fully in something the majority takes for granted”.
Critics including bloggers Pam Spaulding and Mike Signorile said the gay rights charity had no obvious interest in the merger, save for a $50,000 donation from AT&T.
GLAAD later claimed that the letter on net neutrality had been sent in error. Critics of GLAAD pointed out that AT&T is opposed to net neutrality.
“We do not make policy decisions based on what’s best for our corporate sponsors,” GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro responded.
According to Politico.com, GLAAD’s board recommended that Mr Barrios should resign on Friday but he refused. A day later, GLAAD announced that he had stepped down.
Gay bloggers harshly criticised GLAAD’s support of AT&T and some pointed out that AT&T had initially “actively lobbied” to repeal LGBT discrimination protections in Tennessee.
Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law last month. Although Tennessee’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry withdrew its support, AT&T refused to sign a letter to him to condemn the decision.