Facebook is making headlines again, but this time it is for making a $10,000 donation to re-elect a politician who has been fighting against the legalization of same-sex marriage. The $10,000 donation has gone towards the re-election campaign of Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes, making the record of second largest donation. The donation is listed in a file for Reyes’ 2014 campaign on the Utah Financial Disclosures website and was reported by the very angry, but local LGBT magazine.
Facing negative responses and accusations that Facebook is against same-sex marriage, much like Reyes, they reacted with a statement saying that they have “a strong record on LGBT issues.” Ensuring their record on LGBT issues would not change, they defended themselves by also stating “We make decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one.”
Making sure they do not experience a massive amount of Facebook account suspensions, they tried to further defend their decision by adding “A contribution to a candidate does not mean that we agree with every policy or position that candidate takes.” They have made sure to stress they made this donation for the same reason they have supported and donated to Attorney Generals on the opposite side of the same-sex marriage issue.
In their statement they included that they are “committed to fostering innovation and an open internet,” blaming their decision on another big issue going on right now-internet neutrality. Although they seemed to have defended themselves thoroughly, one may assume that they have chosen to support internet neutrality over LGBT equality. Perhaps they are just looking out for their own best interest as a multi-billion dollar company.
Although they have made their decision clear with their statement, the argument has not ended. In response to Facebook’s $10,000 donation to Reyes, who is openly against same-sex marriage, Q Salt Lake assistant editor, Bob Henline, has started a Petition. Using a site called Change.org, Henline asked Facebook to “publicly decry this bigotry and make an equal or greater contribution to Charles Stormont.”
Stormont is seeking the position of Utah Attorney General as Reyes’ opponent. Unlike Reyes, Stormont openly supports same-sex marriage. If Facebook responded to Henline’s challenge by donating $10,000 or more to Stormont’s campaign, they may stop the angry responses of their users but will be putting their best interest aside. Perhaps a generous move such as this can put Facebook back in the good graces of the LGBT community.
On the petition, there is a “reasons for signing section”, where many signers were free to comment on their view and distaste of what Facebook did. One user recently wrote, “As a gay man and avid user of Facebook, I can’t understand how a company that values diversity and inclusion would give this politician money!” adding, “My marriage is something that he is fighting very hard against.”
Shocked to discover Facebook’s donation of $10,000 to Reyes’ campaign, Henline did his own research to find the information on Reyes’ contributors. As a LGBT activist, Henline was already against Reyes’ campaign and told Huffington Post “Sean Reyes has drawn my distaste for his comments about the LGBT community,” adding “being a Facebook user, I have always assumed that it was pro-equality and pro-diversity, so it shocked me.” In the coming days, members and supporters of the LGBT community will be anxiously awaiting Facebook’s response.
By Monica de Lartigue