by Joe LaMuraglia
Earlier this year, we wrote a story about BMW of North America’s ads in the gay media . In that story, we commented on the fact that BMW actively advertised in the GLBT media despite their lack of same-sex domestic-partner benefits. To say it caused a stir would be an understatement. The story was picked up by AdAge.com and became the topic of many a blog from The Huffington Post to Autoblog.com
In the days and months after that article was posted, Gaywheels.com received many emails from gay and straight consumers alike expressing their displeasure with BMW’s actions. Most sent copies of letters that they wrote to BMW expressing their disappointment and intentions to trade in their beloved “Bimmers” for a vehicle from a gay-friendly brand. There were Podcasts on the subject and to this day, that article is one of the top-read pieces of editorial on the site.
Well, a little more than eight months later, we have some great news. BMW N.A. has confirmed that they will offer same-sex domestic partner benefits to their Sales/Marketing and Finance division employees in the U.S. beginning January 1, 2007. This decision allows us to add MINI and Rolls-Royce to the list of gay-friendly brands on Gaywheels.com.
Notice that we didn’t say the BMW brand? Unfortunately, despite BMW N.A.’s change in their HR polices, their manufacturing arm in South Carolina has not followed suit. Based on that fact, we have not put them on our gay-friendly list. When they extend the same benefits to the manufacturing arm, we will gladly add them.
While not a perfect outcome, the fact remains that by adding MINI and Rolls-Royce to our gay-friendly list brings the total number of gay-friendly brands to 34. That equates to four more than when Gaywheels.com started a little over a year ago. While we certainly cannot take credit for these changes, we hope that by educating our readers, the press and the manufacturers alike, we played an important, influential and socially-responsible part.
In our eyes, the real credit goes to each and every Gaywheels.com reader that uses our site and takes action based on the information provided. Whether as basic as researching only gay-friendly companies or as time consuming as writing letters to manufacturers, your actions affect change. On behalf of all the GLBT employees at the newly gay-friendly companies, we thank you.
Note: A day after publishing this article, we received word that BMW’s manufacturing facility in South Carolina will be offering same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees as of Jan 1, 2008. We applaud this decision but until then BMW will remain on our non-gay-friendly list. – Editor