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JIC Post: By KEN THOMASAssociated PressWASHINGTON (AP) -- Gay and lesbian organizations asked Ford Motor Co. on Monday to reinstate advertising for its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications and to distance itself from an anti-gay group which had boycotted the automaker's vehicles.Ford officials met with leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and other organizations in Washington, D.C., after the automaker said last week its luxury brands would no longer advertise in gay publications.The move came nearly a week after the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association canceled its boycott of Ford vehicles, which started in May amid criticism that the nation's No. 2 automaker was too gay-friendly.Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Ford was asked to "make a very strong statement" disassociating itself from the AFA while reinstating the Jaguar and Land Rover advertising in the gay press. Ford has said it did not make the decision because of the boycott or pressure from conservative Christian groups. It said Jaguar and Land Rover, part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, cut back on its marketing across-the-board because of difficult market conditions.The Premier Automotive Group posted a pretax loss of $108 million in the third quarter.Ford said in a statement it was "always willing to engage in constructive conversation with those interested in our policies, even with those who don't always agree with them. But only Ford Motor Company speaks for Ford Motor Company. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect."The automaker said that "during these budget-tightening times, our brands must make tough choices where to advertise and how to spend limited sponsorship dollars." The statement did not mention the AFA.Ford said last week its Volvo brand would continue to advertise in gay publications. The automaker has not advertised its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands in similar outlets.Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford said in a statement, "we value all people - regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences."Ford told gay rights leaders that it had not made any deal with the AFA to end the automaker's advertising of Jaguar and Land Rover in gay media, the groups said."They said they felt a need to respond to their Southern dealers and their Southern dealers were very concerned about a boycott," Solmonese said.AFA chairman Donald Wildmon said in a Nov. 30 statement that the group was ending its boycott, noting that "while we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future."GLAAD president Neil Giuliano, who also participated in the meeting, said "the perception in the gay community is that Ford Motor Co. has made a deal with our virulent adversary and we're not happy about that and they need to do something about that."Ford has been credited for providing an inclusive work environment for gays and lesbians, and it was the only automaker to receive a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's corporate equality index in 2004 and 2005. The survey considers policies and practices toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.Ford, General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG introduced same-sex domestic partner benefits in 2000.
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