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Vanderbilt Seeks Gays


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Vanderbilt Seeks Gays

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: October 3, 2005 9:00 pm ET

(Nashville, Tennessee) Tennessee may not be the most welcoming state in the union for gays and lesbians but Vanderbilt University Medical Center wants you to know that doesn't extend to it.

The center is launching a series of print and television ads designed to let people know that Vanderbilt is not only an accepting environment in which to work, it's also a great place for the gay and lesbian community to receive medical care.

"It's the right thing to do," said Joel G. Lee, associate vice chancellor for Medical Center Communications. "It expresses our philosophy and values to this unique and diverse group."

The ads are just part of a marketing outreach - VUMC has also signed on as a sponsor of the GLBT Business and Life Expo, which will be held in November by the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce. VUMC will provide physicians and nurses to talk about gay and lesbian health issues.

Lee admits that the campaign is self-serving. He points out that the gay and lesbian market is also one that is growing, willing to express preferences, and has expendable income.

Surveys have shown that on average, a gay or lesbian household has almost double the median income of other households in Tennessee, based on the last census data. It's also a market that Lee said has been underserved by the corporate community and the media.

It isn't the first time Vanderbilt has reached out to a specific community - advertising campaigns have run in Hispanic newspapers - but it is the first time the Medical Center has marketed to the gay and lesbian community.

"This is the first time that we have looked at a community (from a marketing perspective) that is emerging in definition," Lee said. "But it's clear that the Middle Tennessee gay and lesbian community is growing and it is more apparent that it is acting like a community."

Vanderbilt has offered domestic partner benefits to its employees since 2000, and since that time, has also included sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy.

"We have an open, accepting and collegial environment here that permeates the campus," Lee explained. "The marketing initiative expresses that environment. It shows that we understand the gay and lesbian community, and we want to serve them as a unique group."

Nevertheless, a proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage has been passed by the state legislature (story) Unless it is struck down by in a court challenge which is underway it will appear on the ballot.

There also was an attempt this year to bar gays and lesbians from adopting or serving as foster parents. It died in committee in March (story).

©365Gay.com 2005


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