Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wal-Mart Flirts with US Queer Market

(Link) With the company's UK stores happily selling same-sex wedding goodies, Wal-Mart ponders how they might appeal for the US queer dollar. Cue the American Family Association with a heapin' helpin' of Righteous Indignation (tm)!


LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Anita French
The Morning News

Wal-Mart is coming under attack again, this time from an unlikely source -- the conservative American Family Association which is criticizing the Bentonville-based retailer for a seminar it held Friday called "Why Market to Gay America?"

American Family Association spokesman Randy Sharp said Friday that his organization obtained a copy of a Wal-Mart staff memo inviting home office employees to the seminar.

He expressed "disappointment and concern" over the seminar and called on family advocates to contact Wal-Mart headquarters to voice their concerns, Sharp said.

"We think people would be surprised to learn that Wal-Mart has recognized and formed a homosexual group. I can tell you from experience that this is the result of homosexual activists engaging the company," Sharp said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley confirmed that the company was holding the seminar and said it grew out of an Associate Resource Groups program Wal-Mart launched in April.

"Several of the groups have helped us by hosting meetings where associates can learn about opportunities to reach out to certain segments of the customer base," Blakley said. "Fundamentally, our values here say that we respect all the people we come in contact with ... and if we're going to provide good service we need to understand all segments of our customer base."

The Associates Resource Group features "affinity or network groups" and includes ones for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. An American Family Association Journal article at the time criticized the program, saying Wal-Mart had "caved in" to gay activists.

Sharp said the Wal-Mart memo his organization obtained noted that "America's homosexual community has $610 billion in purchasing power and that the seminar would provide insight into the purchasing decisions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender customers."

He said the memo was sent to the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., by one of its supporters who works for Wal-Mart.

The seminar was led by Wesley Combs, the co-founder of Washington-based Witeck-Combs Communications, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Witeck-Combs specializes in gay issues and serves on the Human Rights Campaign council, according to its Web site.

Wal-Mart has waded into this issue before when it added gays and lesbians to its anti-discrimination policy a few years ago and earlier this year by having its employee ethics policy take into account that some states recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions.

Also, this month Wal-Mart's Asda Group in the United Kingdom began carrying gay-themed wedding cards and "commitment rings" because British law now allows civil partnerships and gay/lesbian weddings.

rosewood said...

how cool would it be then if the American Family Association called for a boycot of WalMart. Just like with the "happy holidays" thing--which side to pick?