Ford Continues Support Of Homophobic St. Patrick’s Day Parade, While Guinness, Heineken Pull Out

Ford logoIt’s St. Patrick’s Day — a day of shamrocks, green beer, and, depending on where you live, a heaping helping of homophobia.

The good news is that after many years, some St. Patrick’s Day advertisers have finally gotten the picture and pulled their funds from parades that prohibit the inclusion of LGBT groups.

The bad news is, Ford isn’t one of them.

The most notable withdrawals are beer companies, which have been stalwart parade supporters. Last Friday, Sam Adams pulled out of Boston’s major St. Pat’s Day parade, and later that same day, Heineken announced that it would no longer take part in the New York event. Even Guinness — arguably the most Irish of beers — released a statement yesterday saying that it would end support of NYC’s parade. (Not surprisingly, the company issued that statement after some bars in New York City announced that they would no longer sell Guinness because of its implicitly anti-LGBT stance. Moral of the story: gays spend a lot of money on beer.)

But what about Ford, a company that has repeatedly nailed perfect scores on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index? Alas, Ford dug in its heels, issuing the following statement to CNBC:

“Ford Motor Company is involved in a wide range of events and organizations in communities across the country and around the world, including long-standing participation in this parade. No one person, group or event reflects Ford’s views on every issue. What we can tell you is that Ford is proud of its inclusive policies. Every member of the Ford team is valued, and we provide employee benefits regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. “

In other words, “You can’t please everybody,” which, on the surface, seems pretty reasonable, right? Heck, we can’t think of any event that doesn’t have a few detractors. So why should the St. Patrick’s Day Parade be any different?

Because it’s massively different for two big reasons:

1. Ireland was and is a country guided heavily by conservative church teachings, which have denigrated LGBT citizens and encouraged homophobia. Though the general population of Ireland is much, much more LGBT-friendly than Catholic and Protestant dogma would have you believe, the long history of LGBT oppression is upheld by Americans with Irish roots (perhaps far more aggressively than their Irish cousins). Although U.S. parades allow a range of social and cultural groups to join in the fun, organizers complain that they don’t permit pro-choice and other political groups to take part, so why should they be forced to let in LGBT groups? That stance says that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered is a lifestyle choice, instead of accepting its immutability. And that alone is offensive. Would Ford still support the parade if organizers excluded people of color? It’s pretty much the same thing.

2. The homophobia of St. Patrick’s Day parades isn’t just implicit or coded. It’s often explicit. As proof, consider that rabid homophobe Scott Lively — the man currently on trial for crimes against humanity due to his role in drafting Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill — marched in Boston’s major St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. Yes, the man’s running for governor of Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean that parade organizers had to let him take part. And yet, they did. They deny LGBT groups a chance to celebrate their Irish heritage but let in a guy like Scott Lively — a guy who’s argued that gays launched the Holocaust? That’s messed up.

And as a less-major reason for Ford to nix funding, GLAAD points out that “Ford Motors remains the last major American corporation to continue its support of the discriminatory [NYC] parade”. That alone ought to be telling the company something.

Ford will remain on our LGBT friendly list — at least for now, though its funding of the parade may cause it to lose points on HRC’s Index. Let’s hope that someone on Ford’s corporate sponsorship team realizes the error of the automaker’s ways before next March rolls around.

3 thoughts on “Ford Continues Support Of Homophobic St. Patrick’s Day Parade, While Guinness, Heineken Pull Out

  1. Your sexual poragitive is by no means “pretty much the same thing” as ones race…That in itself offensive!! If you choose, you can hide your attraction to the same sex, if you choose. No hiding he color of my skin, ever! Dont try to strengthing your position by trying to equate the sexual rights of LGBT to the civil rights of those people of color. OFFENSIVE!!

    1. Keith: Genetically speaking, sexual orientation and race are identical. They are immutable characteristics, they can’t be changed. And so, in this case, the analogy is perfectly apt: organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parades have prohibited groups from participating in these events because of inborn characteristics. Excluding LGBT Irish Americans from walking in the parades — and allowing them to identify as such — is no different than excluding other groups organized around immutable traits like race. That is unconscionable. THAT is what’s offensive.

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