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Ford Shareholders Overwhelmingly Vote For Gay Policy

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Ford Shareholders Overwhelmingly Vote For Gay Policy

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

May 11, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET

(Dearborn, Michigan) An attempt by a Ford shareholder to force the automaker to drop protections for LGBT workers from its human resources regulations was swiftly defeated on Thursday.

Shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Dearborn voted 95 percent to reject the proposal.

The motion had been submitted by shareholder Robert Hurley of Alton, Ill. Ford attempted to keep the issue off the agenda for today's meeting but Alton went to the Securities and Exchange Commission which ordered Ford to put it to a vote

The motion called for Ford to change its policy to exclude any reference to sexual interests, activities or orientation. Ford argued to the SEC that the proposal would hurt the company's ability to recruit and could hurt sales to gays and lesbians. The SEC rejected the argument.

Ford then issued a recommendation to shareholders to vote against the measure.

The boycott of the company by conservative Christian groups did not come up at the meeting. The American Family Association and 18 other conservative groups in March reinstated a boycott of Ford (story) saying that the company had "reneged on an agreement to stop funding groups that promote same-sex marriage."

The groups first launched the nationwide boycott last year over the automaker's support for LGBT issues. (story) Weeks later it put the boycott on hold after dealers asked for time to see if the AFA complaints "could be addressed by them in cooperation with officials from Ford Motor Company." (story)

In early December, following a meeting with the AFA, Ford, through its ad agency, began notifying gay media outlets that it was canceling all ads for Jaguar and Land Rover but would continue, at least for now, to run ads for Volvo. (story)

The AFA ended its threatened boycott declaring victory. (story)

Major LGBT civil rights groups immediately demanding a meeting with company executives. The groups demanded to know if a secret agreement had been made with the American Family Association to end the company's long commitment to the gay community.

The groups also sought a commitment from Ford on funding to LGBT civil rights groups and to resume advertising in the media.

A day later Ford issued a statement saying that it would feature all of its brands in a 2006 ad campaign in LGBT publications. Previously Ford was advertising only its Land Rover and Jaguar brands in the gay press. (story)

As for financially supporting LGBTt rights groups the company said in its statement that "while we still support certain events, I know you understand that the business situation will limit the extent of our support in all communities in 2006."

Earlier on Thursday one of the partners in the boycott, the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, announced that 50,000 people have signed its online pledge to boycott the company.

The AFA says its Web site that "It appears that Ford is more willing to face bankruptcy than ending their support of homosexual groups and causes."

Ford is struggling in North America. In 2005 it lost $1.6 billion and another $457 million in the first quarter of this year. The company is closing 14 plants and chopping 34,000 jobs.

©365Gay.com 2006

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