Anti-Gay Campaign Finds No Welcome at Home DepotFor more than a year, the American Family Association has pleaded with Home Depot (HD) not to publicly back gay rights. The home improvement retailer has ignored those pleas. In fact, the Atlanta-based company continues to participate in the city's gay pride parade, as it has done for years.

Still, the AFA, founded by the controversial Rev. Donald Wildmon who has made a career scolding the likes of Howard Stern, isn't giving up. "AFA focuses primarily on one boycott at a time," Randy Sharp, the AFA's director of special projects, said in an interview. "A successful boycott can take two or three years."

There's a Boycott?

The Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay rights group, knew that the AFA was angry with the retailer, but was not aware that the dispute had escalated into a boycott, spokesman Paul Guequierre says. The AFA disputes this but does agree that the Home Depot boycott isn't getting the attention of past actions because of the liberal bias of the media, Sharp said.

Home Depot is holding its line on the issue: "Our response on this has been and continues to be that we respect the diversity of all people and maintain an inclusive culture," Home Depot spokesman Steve Holmes said in an email. "This is what [Chairman] Frank [Blake] told the AFA publicly at our annual shareholders meeting earlier this year."

Culture Clash

Home Depot isn't the only high-profile company the AFA has targeted. It has also tangled with Walt Disney (DIS), Procter & Gamble (PG), and PepsiCo (PEP).

The AFA, which brags on its website that it has been on "the frontlines of America's culture war" since 1977, insists that it has nothing against gays. All it wants is for corporate America to remain "neutral" in these same conflicts, according to Sharp. That includes both supporting gay causes and marketing to the LGBT community.

"It's not about refusing to hire gay people," he says. "When they begin marketing [to gays], then they are giving support to their agenda. You never see Home Depot advertise in Christian publications. There is a bigger Christian market than gay market."

The HRC rejects these arguments. Guequierre notes that members of the LGBT community lack legal protections offered to heterosexuals on issues such as workplace discrimination. "What they call being 'neutral,' isn't really being 'neutral,'" he says.

Campaign's Unintended Consequences

If nothing else, the AFA's campaigns have raised public and corporate awareness on one important issue: the growing economic clout of the LGBT community.

A survey by Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts estimated the LGBT community's financial muscle at $743 billion in 2010, an increase from $660 billion in 2006. Plenty of companies openly court their business:

Companies that court anti-gay groups do so at their own peril.

Target (TGT) CEO Gregg Steinhafel issued a public apology last year for the retailer's $150,000 donation to a Minnesota political group that opposes gay rights. The retailer's donation angered singer and gay rights activist Lady Gaga, who reportedly nixed a deal to sell a special edition of one of her albums through the chain. Steinhafel said in June that the retailer would stay "neutral" on the gay marriage debate.

Even with the gains being made by the LGBT community, plenty of businesses still listen to the AFA, Sharp said. The activists have "friendly relationships" with about a dozen or so major Fortune 500 companies, mainly retailers. AFA declined to name names in order to protect them from the ire of gay rights groups, he said. "If we have a concern, we have a name and number of somebody we can call."

Motley Fool contributor Jonathan Berr owns shares of Target. The Motley Fool owns shares of PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Home Depot, Disney, Procter & Gamble, and PepsiCo, as well as creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo.





Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Income Investing

Grow your nest-egg.

View Course »

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

410 Comments

Filter by:
thesimsny007

"Even with the gains being made by the LGBT community, plenty of businesses still listen to the AFA, Sharp said. The activists have "friendly relationships" with about a dozen or so major Fortune 500 companies, mainly retailers. AFA declined to name names in order to protect them from the ire of gay rights groups, he said. "

If he is so proud of them and they are doing nothing wrong why hide them? Sounds like someone knows they are wrong and is just looking for kickbacks if you ask me :)

December 20 2011 at 4:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron

Jackie, I have nothing against gays. I have everything against Home Depot pandering to ANY SINGLE group, especially the abnormal groups.

October 20 2011 at 12:21 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ron's comment
Matthew

You poor, crazy thing.

October 20 2011 at 6:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
JOE

Abnormal??? You a F'n idiot!

April 16 2012 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Buck

Why do these homos feel the need to march and tell everyone they like hairy ass? It's only obvious, I don't know of any rights there being denied? Shut up and keep your disgusting sexuality to your self. I don't feel the need to tell everyone I'm straight? They can shop,go to school, live, everywhere I can so whats the problem? Mad because you can only marry in the pro homo states? Sickening

October 19 2011 at 11:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Buck's comment
savemycountry911

Homo Depot supports the Gay Rights Coalition which promotes PEDOPHELIA. LEAVE THE KIDS ALONE YOU PERVERTS.

October 19 2011 at 7:32 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to savemycountry911's comment
Matthew

Huh? Did you forget to take your meds today?

October 20 2011 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SammieG16

ummm, just so you know, i dont like kids, i like my women older then me.

October 24 2011 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron

I saw a picture of a Home Depot truck in a gay parade. The sign on te side of the truck was chaged to read Homo Depot! How fitting!

October 19 2011 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
stottsie

The point is - just market to everyone. Why make a "statement". Either way you lose customers. This is not the arena to make your personal statement. JUST SELL YOUR PRODUCT and everyone can endorse your company and enjoy what you have to offer.

October 19 2011 at 4:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jackie

in this world we are all equal gay or not what rights do i have that a gay person dont?
as shopping at any box stores .i never seen a sign saying gays no welcome
what is this about repect .if any business dont want to donate to any group thats
there problem no anyone elses .if you are gay and proud keep it to yourselfs
if people dont like gays keep it to yourselfs .judge yourselfs before you judge others
that works both ways .put all theses issue to sleep tired of this all get on with your lifes
nuff nuff

October 19 2011 at 4:01 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
brewsterfrd

in the bible in leviticus it reads in18 -22 thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind it ia abomination. and in 20-13 it reads if a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman both of them have committed an abomination thay shall surely be put to death their blood shall be upon them. may god have mercy on this nation.

October 19 2011 at 3:47 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to brewsterfrd's comment
bigdhouses

it also says:
death for being rude to strangers..Matthew 10;14
death for gathering wood during the sabbath...Numbers 15;32
ok to sell daughter into slavery...exodus 21;7
eating shellfish is an abomination...Lev.11;10
ok to have slaves from another country...Lev. 25;44

Lots more

October 19 2011 at 5:15 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bigdhouses's comment
SammieG16

"Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean."
= have a child and you become bad, but what. i thought the chruch wanted as to have kids?

"thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"=stop hating

"neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee."=no wearing jeans and sweaters

"the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him."=get a priest to kill a ram, and your sinless.
Shall i go on?

October 24 2011 at 10:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
Ken

"Home Depot isn't the only high-profile company the AFA has targeted. It has also tangled with Walt Disney (DIS), Procter & Gamble (PG), and PepsiCo (PEP)."

And THOSE companies just laughed at the AFA too.

I've never understood why any sane adult would think that a belief in the supernatural is a prerequisite for leading a moral and ethical life.

October 19 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jackie

back in the 70s i drove a nyc taxi .on 21th between 5-6 ave .there was a working mans bar .at nite it was a
gay bar woman only .i finished my shift .went to have a drink .i heard the song my girl loud.
ask for a drink .the dyke behind the bar .the drinks are costly .i said how much ?$ 7.50 .take it or leave it
or get out now .1977 a drink was never that much .where was repect for me?

October 19 2011 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jackie's comment
Matthew

Oh...I'm beginning to understand. You're not quite "all there." Poor thing.

October 20 2011 at 6:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
thesimsny007

Can we get the human translation of this post please.

December 20 2011 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply