As someone who politically identifies as a progressive, there often are occurrences where you have to hold those accountable who claim to be in the same fight as you are. Progressive ideology is not just being liberal or Democrat but making sure that complete social and economic justice is adhered to. This includes calling out those who turn a blind eye to ignorant agendas.
I recently received an email invitation to the LGBT Network’s Workplace Summit, to take place this October. It is its first; it will address workplace inclusion and diversity.
However, what struck me as absolute hypocrisy was that the LGBT Network had decided to make Walmart the “Presenting Sponsor” of the summit, as well as People’s United Bank as the “Bronze Sponsor.”
Walmart gave President Trump’s 2016 inaugural committee $150,000, as well as sponsored a celebratory ball. OpenSecrets.org reports that in 2018, Walmart gave $21,072 to now U.S. Senator Martha McSally. McSally, as U.S. representative, voted in favor of “sweeping taxpayer-funded anti-LGBT discrimination in all federal agencies,” as stated by the Human Rights Campaign. Also, in 2018, Walmart gave $65,500 to U.S. Representative Steve Womack, who likewise voted, with McSally, in favor of removing protections for LGBTQ+ people in the Violence Against Women Act.
In a hit close to home, People’s United Bank gave U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin $5,000 in 2018. Zeldin opposed the passage of same-sex marriage and does not believe gender should be a protected class in the United States. Our neighbor, U.S. Representative Peter King, voted no on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation; People’s United Bank gave him $5,000 as well.
Job discrimination literally being one of the main topics of this upcoming summit.
In my early years at Pierson High School, I was part of the youth group at the Sag Harbor branch of the LGBT Network and have been to their past couple of summer fundraisers. I continue to be a board member, facilitator, governmental outreach aide, event organizer and more of pro-LGBTQ+ organizations and causes as I study political science and sociology in college.
LGBT Network, I ask you to raise your standards. These companies have given you money now, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t continue to give to harmful, anti-LGBTQ+ causes. This is nothing more than a mere marketing stunt to appeal to a larger pool of customers.
Whether you knew this of them or not, you can fix this — and you can fix this now. If you truly stand for the queer community, you will give a public apology, promise to do better and find new sponsors for your summit who actually believe in our human rights.
Max MicallefNoyacMr. Micallef is a student at Purchase College in Westchester County—Ed.
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