Guest Opinions

Pro-equality companies shouldn’t fund anti-equality candidates

I was taught that Idaho values include being nice to other people and treating them fairly. In my public service, I treat all people equally without regard to whether they voted for me or whether we agree on any given issue. That is the duty of governance, and it is why public service is a noble profession, one that I am honored and humbled to be a part of. And it’s why I feel compelled to bring attention to this issue.

Idaho’s two U.S. Senators, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, must not have learned that lesson. They routinely disrespect Idaho’s LGBT citizens with their rhetoric and their votes. I’ve known this for quite some time, but only recently did I realize they are among the most anti-LGBT people in all of Congress. A new campaign called Zero for Zeros (zeroforzeros.org) has researched this using the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard and some additional criteria to find the ‘worst of the worst’ on issues of equality.

Both of our senators, Risch and Crapo, found themselves on that list of the 29 most anti-equality D.C. politicians. They vote against equality every chance they get and speak against us whenever the opportunity arises. This matters because their words hurt people, especially young people who may be struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. Their behavior is inconsistent with the values of our state.

That’s why I am glad that the Zero for Zeros campaign is bringing attention to this. Once they had their “worst of the worst” list, they cross-checked it with the nearly 600 companies that score a perfect 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. These are companies that are absolutely our allies. However, 49 of them have given contributions to at least some of the “worst of the worst.”

These companies have been leading the corporate world on issues of equality by earning that 100% rating from Human Rights Campaign. They have great policies for their LGBT employees, they advertise to LGBT customers, they sponsor LGBT organizations, and they sponsor large contingencies in pride parades all over the country. Right here in Idaho, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo have a large presence. They sponsor Boise Pride and also have a contingency that marches. I was surprised and confused to learn about their support of these anti-gay politicians.

I am fully behind the work of the Zero for Zeros campaign. Their guiding statement is hard to argue with: Companies that are allies to LGBT employees and customers shouldn’t give money to the elected officials who lead the fight against equality. These companies should absolutely amend their policies and practices to ensure these horribly anti-equality politicians do not receive their PAC dollars.

Why is this important enough to take the time to write about it. Think back to the young people who are harmed when Sens. Crapo and Risch spout homophobic and transphobic remarks. Right now, these companies are offering support for them and, by extension, their anti-LGBT remarks and positions. They may explain this away by saying that they don’t agree with these folks on every issue. That excuse does not work for me.

These companies literally march through the streets carrying Pride flags. It boggles my mind that they think any excuse for funding these homophobic politicians would be acceptable. The only thing that makes sense is for their political giving to reflect the values that they hold as a company. In all, 181 CEOs recently signed a letter that set out to redefine the role of corporations in America. Among those principles is to “foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.” I applaud this and say that it is high time that this includes how those companies allocate political contributions.

Please join me in supporting the work of Zero for Zeros by letting Wells Fargo, T-Mobile and other companies know that it is past time for them to end corporate PAC contributions to politicians that lead the fight against equality. We can and do expect a higher standard from an ally.

Idaho Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, represents District 16.
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