8 corporations that are “rainbow-washing” during Pride month while supporting anti-LGBTQ+ politicians

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by Anna Harissis

‘Corporate accountability does not begin and end with employee benefits and hiring practices — it extends to how a corporation spends its dollars, philanthropic and political.’ -GLAAD president
Rainbow-washing is when a business shows public support for the LGBTQ+ community, while privately taking part in activities that harm the community and their basic human rights. We’ve compiled a list of companies that are guilty of this, so you can choose to spend your money wisely.

Toyota

Toyota was recently identified as the largest corporate donor to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, donating over $600k between 2019 and March of 2022. $580,000 of that went to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott is a Republican who directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct child abuse investigations of parents who help their transgender children seek necessary gender-affirming care.

Simultaneously, Toyota is a major sponsor of LA Pride, which is one of the largest events in the nation. Though, these efforts don’t make up for Toyota’s ongoing interests in funding anti-LGBTQ+ politicians across the country.

AT&T

AT&T claims to “have a moral and business obligation to engage on the fundamental issues of equality and fairness.” Yet, they have donated more than $1.05 million to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians since 2021. The money donated went to the campaigns of Republican members of Congress and to the Republican Governors Association.

Beyond that, at the state level, AT&T has donated $100,000 to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and $50,000 to Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis signed the controversial "Parental Rights in Education" (also known as “Dont Say Gay”) bill into law. It reads, "Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."

Verizon

Verizon claims they are “proud to foster an inclusive environment” and “committed to LGBTQ+ equality across the board.” Yet, Verizon has donated at least $559,762 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2021.

Verizon has also donated to the Republican Governors Association and politicians in Oklahoma and South Carolina, who are behind recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. This includes donating to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

McMaster recently signed a bill that “bans transgender athletes from playing on public school and college sports teams that align with their gender identity.”

Comcast/NBCUniversal

Recently, over 300 employees signed a petition calling out Comcast and NBCUniversal for their donations to candidates that supported Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

The petition states, “for the diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace and world Comcast/NBCUniversal publicly declares allegiance to, we ask that these antithetical donations be acknowledged, internally and externally, and that the company pledge to reevaluate the criteria used to make political donations accordingly.”

CVS

CVS signed HRC’s Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation and simultaneously supports anti-trans legislation in Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee.

In Texas, CVS backed Republican state senators who supported Senate Bill 1646. In North Carolina, they donated to state senator Ralph Hise, who was the primary sponsor of S514, that would’ve prevented doctors from performing gender confirmation surgery for transgender people younger than 21.

Walmart

Even though Walmart features an entire “Pride & Joy” section on their website, they were one of a few large corporations that collectively donated over $1 million to lawmakers who voted against the Equality Act. Walmart also donated $43,000 to state legislators in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas, all of whom were pushing for anti-trans legislation.

Charter Communications (Spectrum)

Charter Communications, which owns Spectrum, kicked off Pride Month 2022 with a curated list of LGBTQ+ movies for subscribers to watch on-demand. They claim to be “committed to #LGBTQ acceptance & equality…so that everyone feels valued and empowered to bring their best ideas forward.”

Yet, the company donated $1.16 million since the start of 2021 to politicians who support anti-LGBTQ legislation. They also gave $148,250 to state legislators in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, who all support anti-LGBTQ laws.

Beyond that, they’ve contributed $210,000 to the Republican Governors Association and $220,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, both organizations that support anti-LGBTQ politicians across the country.

Anheuser-Busch

Since 2020, Anheuser-Busch has donated $45k to politicians pushing anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Yet, on their website they boast that “Bud Light Joins Forces with the NGLCC to Support Local LGBTQ+ Businesses Across the Country”.

In 2021, Bud Light ran an interesting ad campaign during Pride month featuring a rainbow bottle and “LGBTQ”, to stand for “Let’s Grab Beers Tonight, Queens.” That didn’t exactly go over well with the intended audience.

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