In a letter sent to the FCC today by GLAAD's interim president, the media organization has withdrawn its previous support for the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. The letter also strongly supports net neutrality and cites the rise of the blogosphere as one of the major reasons to keep the web agenda free.
GLAAD's former president, Jarrett Barrios, was forced to resign after the group issued multiple letters to the FCC at AT&T's request - one written entirely by the telecom giant - and Barrios lied to the FCC and reporters about who wrote the letter and why it was sent. Troup Coronado, a board member with deep ties to AT&T also resigned.
GLAAD board member Tony Varona tells us, "GLAAD's acting president, Mike Thompson, reached out to the board of directors before finalizing his letter to the FCC withdrawing GLAAD's endorsement of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger application and clarifying our position on net neutrality. The board was in full support of his letter."
"A number of GLAAD's allies and partners have submitted letters to the FCC advancing arguments in favor of AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile that are rooted in their respective missions. A review of the various issues at stake made clear that GLAAD's initial filing in the matter did not articulate an adequate and convincing link to our own mission," he said. "Having written and spoken strongly in favor of net neutrality in my work as a communications law scholar, I am confident that Mike made the right decision both in withdrawing GLAAD's endorsement of the AT&T merger application and in affirming our support of general net neutrality principles."
"We owe the success of much of the LGBT movement's and GLAAD's own work to a neutral and nondiscriminatory Internet - one that has disallowed the creation of premium-priced "fast lanes" for certain content and services, relegating to a low-quality "slow lane" not-for-profit content and services that are vital to our community's survival and quest for full equality."
GLAAD's statement is after the jump along with links to all of our previous coverage of the AT&T controversy with GLAAD and other civil rights organizations. You can download a copy of GLAAD's latest FCC letter here [pdf].
GLAAD RETURNS TO NEUTRAL STANCE ON AT&T/T-MOBILE MERGER
ORGANIZATION AFFIRMS STRONG SUPPORT FOR NET NEUTRALITY TO FCC
July 13, 2011, New York, NY - The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to withdraw its support for the pending AT&T merger with T-Mobile and to return the organization to a neutral position with respect to the deal. GLAAD also submitted to the FCC, in the same letter, a statement strongly supporting the tenets of net neutrality. Today's letter was filed by Mike Thompson, GLAAD's Acting President following extensive discussion among GLAAD leadership and supporters.
"A rigorous review process considered GLAAD's unique mission and concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD's work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media," said Thompson.
In affirming GLAAD's support for the principle of net neutrality, Thompson wrote in the FCC letter: "GLAAD is a strong supporter of the general principle of net neutrality. Although this letter is not specific to any proposed or existing regulatory or legislative standards, we acknowledge that net neutrality is one of the principles most responsible for the Internet's emergence as the dominant platform for free expression. A nondiscriminatory and neutral Internet has allowed new digital media initiatives and the blogosphere itself to flourish online. Net neutrality has cultivated the plethora of online resources available to otherwise isolated LGBT Americans seeking help with coming out, coping with and countering discrimination, suicide and HIV/AIDS prevention resources, community building and political organizing tools, and general self-expression. GLAAD's own work has been effective thanks in large part to net neutrality."
Thompson and GLAAD's Board of Directors pledged commitment to GLAAD's mission as they form an Executive Search Committee to identify a new President.
"In just the past few weeks, GLAAD's Media Programs team has continued to move Americans through sharing powerful stories- from African American pastors who support marriage equality in the New York Daily News to prompting professional baseball teams to take a stand against anti-gay and transgender attitudes to demanding action from Jose Luis sin Censura, the most anti-gay show on Spanish-language television," Thompson said. "It is GLAAD's work on the ground with local organizations and behind-the-scenes with national and local media that will continue to grow support for our community's equality."
Catch up on the controversy with additional coverage from The Bilerico Project: