Bil Browning

Wal-Mart kicks us to the curb

Filed By Bil Browning | June 22, 2007 1:36 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement
Tags: civil rights, gay rights, LGBTQ community, money, Walmart

Oh, Wal-Mart. How I love to hate them. And they just keep making it easier and easier!

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has decided to curb its support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organizations after conservative Christian groups threatened a boycott, and after some of its own employees expressed disapproval.

The move comes a year after Wal-Mart had put on a gay-friendly smile. The company joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. It sponsored the annual convention of Out & Equal, a group that promotes gay rights in the workplace, and sold gay-themed jewelry in stores.

Is anyone really surprised that a store that regularly censors the books and CDs that it sells is caving into the religious right? Color me shocked beyond belief. *rolls eyes*

Wal-Mart's horrendous record of employee abuse, labor law violations, reliance on foreign factories employing child workers to keep costs down, and environmental neglect was enough to get us to stop shopping there ages ago. Unfortunately, many Americans don't have the luxury of shopping elsewhere. (In my small home town of Winchester, Indiana, for example, Wal-Mart is pretty much the only spot to shop anymore. Everything else has dried up or left town.)

Still, you know that respect for gay rights as civil rights has grown exponentially when the CNN Money/Fortune magazine article about the sudden change in course ends with:

The lesson here may be that it's hard to find a middle ground when it comes to gay rights in the workplace. A company either believes in workplace equality for all, and is willing to stand up and say so, or it doesn't.

It's pretty clear where Wal-Mart stands.

I couldn't agree more.

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What? The center of all life for poor, tithe-strapped conservative Christians hates gay people? NO! It couldn't be!

Yet another reason I'd rather be shopping at Meijer.

I think Walmart's union busting, discrimination against female employees, and shutting down of that store in Quebec because the employees formed a union shows where Walmart stands on doing the right thing versus doing the lucrative thing. Then again, that's the system that we set up here - capitalism inherently puts money before values - and the religious right is somehow upset when capitalism acts the way it's set up to when businesses go after queers' money and say that they should put values before money all the while talking about how great capitalism is. And I admonish bad writers but then write a huge run-on sentence. Go figure!

The Wal-mart close to my home is dirty and the staff very unfriendly. There was a time when the stores were clean and the staff friendly and in dress code, but that can be said for most retail establishments. I do 99% of my shopping at Meijer, but they have no support for gay rights, domestic benefits, or any other form of openness to the GLBT community. I wish I could like Target more, but for some reason just hate shopping there. Target has a good track record for GLBT issues. At least the last time I looked they did.

If I had been inside a Wal-Mart in the last four years, I might stop going now, but their labor practices, poor service, and expensive food have kept me away for ages. Just goes to show that progressive and gay interests often line up.