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Exxon To Vote On Gay Rights Measure

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Exxon To Vote On Gay Rights Measure

by Doug Windsor, 365Gay.com New York Bureau

May 16, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(New York City) Shareholders in ExxonMobil, the only major U.S. company to rescind a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation, will vote this month on a proposal to reinstate the job guarantees.

The company's annual meeting will be held on May 31.

This month shareholders at two other major corporations that include gay rights in their policies, American Express and Ford, defeated attempts to drop its protections for LGBT workers. (story) In both cases the companies recommended voting down the measures.

But for six years shareholders at Exxon have agreed with a company position that protections for its LGBT workers are not needed.

One of the leading advocates for change has been New York City Employees Retirement Fund. Last year its call to reinstate LGBT protections was supported by 29 percent of the voting stockholders. It was the highest percentage in the six years gay supporters have brought the issue to the floor.

LGBT workers had been included in employment policies at Mobil. In December 1999 when Mobil merged with Exxon and under Exxon's direction, the policy was abandoned. At the same time, it closed Mobil's domestic partner benefits program to any more employees.

NYCERS currently holds 11.9 million shares worth approximately $446 million in the company.

New York's pension funds have a long history of activism on behalf of social causes, including gay rights. The funds were part of a decade-long battle to get CBRL Group Inc., the parent company of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. CBRL, which reportedly fired at least 11 gay workers in the 1990s, agreed to change its policy in November 2002 after a resolution garnered 58 percent of the vote.

It also backed a resolution that resulted in J.C. Penney Co. supporting LGBT non discrimination.

Earlier this month fast food chain Wendy's International has agreed to amend its employment nondiscrimination policy by adding new written protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all employees. (story)

While companies which include adding protections for gay workers in their written non-discrimination rules say they are doing so because its the right thing to do most financial analysts suggest the real reason is the realization of the pink buck.

LGBT purchasing power in the U.S. has been estimated at $641 billion a year.

©365Gay.com 2006

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