LGBT grassroots activists calling themselves the Queer Occupy Wall Street Caucus united outside of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel Feb. 4 to demonstrate against a Human Rights Campaign gala honoring, among others, global investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs for its commitment to LGBT equality.
The Queer OWS Caucus released a statement reading, in part, “You do not speak for us.” According to the statement, the group’s chants included, “Hey, hey, HRC. Where is our equality?” and “Everyone pays their tax – Everyone but Goldman Sachs.”
HRC recognized the firm in 2011 as the “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.” And Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’s chief executive officer and chairman, recently became the first major business leader to join HRC’s national media campaign in support of same-sex marriage.
According to the Queer OWS statement, a solidarity event was held simultaneously in San Francisco at the Harvey Milk Camera Shop, now an HRC boutique.
One Million Moms, a project of the the American Family Association, has called upon JC Penny to fire talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres after she was hired as the company’s new spokesperson Jan. 25.
In a statement released Feb. 1, the One Million Moms organization wrote: ”Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. More sales will be lost than gained unless they replace their spokesperson quickly.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) immediately countered by launching an online campaign backing DeGeneres and raising awareness about employment discrimination faced by LGBT people.
GLAAD has called upon LGBT equality supporters to “Stand Up for Ellen” by contacting JC Penny and thanking them for making the right choice in hiring DeGeneres. More than 20,000 people have signed GLAAD’s online petition thanking JC Penny, and many others have taken to Facebook and Twitter to express their support of the decision.
Michael Francis, president of the department store, also released a statement supporting DeGeneres. “We share the same fundamental values as Ellen,” he said, in part. ”We couldn’t think of a better partner to help us put the fun back into the retail experience.”
The department store has come full circle since bowing to similar pressures from the American Family Association in 1997. Then, the retailer chose to drop its ad from Ellen’s TV sitcom during the “Puppy Episode” in which DeGeneres revealed her sexual orientation on primetime television.