“We are proud to recognize and celebrate Pride Month,” Comcast declared on June 1, “as we work to create a world of open possibilities for all.”
The largest cable TV and internet service company in the United States also announced the launch of a virtual reality “Pride World,” with “events, Pride floats, Pride flags, and even a Pronoun Guide for employees.”
Back in actual reality, however, Comcast is funding the campaigns of anti-LGBT politicians across the country, to the tune of more than a million dollars over the last two years.
In Maine, the company contributed to the 2018 re-election of Rep. Beth O’Connor, a Republican from Berwick who is the lead sponsor of a bill targeting transgender student athletes in Maine.
Last session, O’Connor voted against protections based on gender identity in Maine’s Human Rights Act and in favor of allowing “conversion therapy” to be practiced on young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
As Popular Information revealed in a recent analysis, Comcast is far from the only company to change their social media logo to a rainbow while funding the extreme opponents of everything Pride represents. They noted that 25 large U.S. corporations have spent more than $10 million in support of members of Congress with a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, and even more supporting state-level opponents of LGBTQ rights.
Even in Maine, where most legislative candidates run without corporate contributions through the Clean Elections system, a quick look at campaign finance reports shows more than a dozen companies who are funding exactly the kind of hatred they claim on social media to be standing against.
Portland-based law firm Verill (formerly Verill Dana), for one example, tweeted out a rainbow graphic last Pride pledging their commitment to “building a more diverse and inclusive firm” while “fostering mutual respect within our communities and society at large.” During the past two election cycles they’ve given at least $3,150 to Maine politicians who have sponsored anti-trans bills, backed conversion therapy and opposed LGBTQ rights.
Other corporations that have both supported Pride celebrations and given to anti-LGBTQ politicians in Maine include Anthem, Astra Zeneca, Bangor Savings Bank, Bayer, Spectrum, Cigna, Maine Credit Union League, Merck, Monsanto, Pfizer, Unum and Verizon.
Now, I’m sure these companies aren’t giving to these legislators simply because of their abhorrent pro-discrimination positions. It probably just so happens that the same extreme Republicans who sponsor anti-transgender bills also back economic and regulatory policies that benefit banks, pharmaceutical giants and insurance firms.
But it’s clear where Pride figures in their corporate priorities.
One might argue that these companies are better than those that fund anti-LGBTQ politicians while not even bothering to make a rainbow-hued nod toward equality every June, but I disagree. These corporations have proven, through their tweets and graphics and virtual reality parades, that somewhere in their corporate structure they know the harm they’re causing, and yet they do it anyway.