Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hijacking The Gay Movement Again

If one listens to the loudest voices of the left, he'd think that the biggest gay issues aren't protecting our families, gaining equal recognition under the law for our mutual living arrangements, and lifting government restrictions.

What should be more important? Well, according to the AFL-CIO's "gay rights group," it's WalMart's compensation arrangements and a laundry list of other leftist causes:

"[Gay groups should] demand that Wal-Mart create 'friendly' practices, of say, paying their employees above-poverty-line wages, offering affordable health care, and when that is done, they could think about offering domestic-partner benefits and dealing with the massive class action lawsuit facing them regarding gender discrimination" [said Jeremy Bishop, program director of Pride at Work at the AFL-CIO].

more . . .

So first, gay groups should campaign for WalMart to offer health benefits to all of its employees -- gay and non-gay -- and also demand WalMart pay much higher wages. These are gay issues how? (I suppose that it is generous of Mr. Bishop to insist that gay groups may want to get around to campaigning for domestic partner benefits sometime after his own well-funded group gets everything it's looking for).

The cardinal sin for which WalMart is being punished? They've teamed up with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to create and nurture a gay-friendly supplier and employee culture. The initiative, if successful, will create friendlier environments for gay employees -- both in-store and in management -- as well as create greater access for gay and lesbian owned businesses to sell their wares through WalMart. This creates new jobs, new business opportunities for gay and lesbian enterprises (who can then hire more gay employees) and greater economic impact for all gay Americans versus the status quo.

Sounds great, right? You'd figure such value creation for such an important part of the gay and lesbian community would earn both organizations some props -- even from those who are regular critics of WalMart. But instead, Mr. Bishop says:

"The mission statement says it is committed 'to forming a broad-based coalition of LGBT-owned and -friendly businesses,'" Bishop told PageOneQ.com, referring to NGLCC's own description of its agenda. "We're not exactly sure how Wal-Mart fits into the LGBT-friendly business category. In fact, we're not sure how Wal-Mart fits into anything worker-friendly."

Note how quickly the discussion shifted from gay people to "worker-friendliness" in just two sentences. So once again, we learn that for the left, the demands of powerful union interest groups trump those of gay people. Despite all of the advances this agreement offers to gay entrepreneurs/small businesses, workers, managers, and potential employees of WalMart and its suppliers, it's just not something they can support -- in fact, according to them, no good gay person could.

If gay people needed any more evidence of the "tactical utility" of gay issues for the left, it would be harder to find. Unless you're a gay person who falls into the narrow band of people who the AFL-CIO represent, finding opportunity in a left-leaning socialist world will prove to be just as elusive as in a right-leaning neoconservative world.