A group of LGBT+ leaders wrote a letter to Seattle Pride this week urging the event to reject sponsorship from a local business alleged to have anti-LGBT+ ties.
In a letter sent on Monday, 10 activists called upon Seattle’s Pride organising committee to drop New Seasons Market, a Portland-based grocery store partially funded by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The letter refers to the Murdock Trust as “a major funder of anti-LGBTQ groups and other institutions,” suggesting that it has supported “anti-transgender initiatives, gay conversion therapy, and the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing a business to discriminate against gay customers”.
The signatories, which included Danni Askini of Gender Justice League, George Bakan of Seattle Gay News, and Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington, said:
We should not allow any corporation to use Seattle Pride to market products while its profits benefit groups that discriminate against its own LGBTQ employees, customers, and members of Seattle’s community
One of the groups funded by the Murdock Trust is the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the right-wing law firm responsible for drafting anti-trans bills in several US states. The ADF has also opposed inclusive policies in school districts across the America that allow trans students to choose which bathroom they use.
According to its website, the Murdock Trust has given nearly a million dollars to the anti-LGBT+ organisation, which is labelled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
LGBT+ activists also point out that the ADF, which has compared businesses being forced to serve LGBT+ people to being forced to serve members of the KKK, isn’t the only anti-equality group that the Murdock Trust funds. It also backs the Portland Fellowship, a conversion therapy program preaching “freedom for the captives”.
The Oregon-based organisation states on its website:
We believe that freedom from homosexuality comes through a person: the Lord Jesus Christ
Conversion therapy, the discredited practice of seeking to “change” an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been condemned as harmful and ineffective by medical associations across the world.
This isn’t the first controversy surrounding Seattle’s Pride events. Last year 12 LGBT+ activists were arrested after shutting down Seattle Pride in protest of corporate sponsors like JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which were involved in funding the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
Michael Andrew, the secretary-treasurer of Pride at Work Washington, told LGBT+ website INTO that these business relationships are a classic example of what LGBT+ activists often call “pinkwashing”.
It’s pretty typical for organisations which don’t give a damn about the LGBT+ community to become sponsors of Pride parades and put up rainbow flags during Pride month. And yet when you look at their policies and some of their ownership, they’re not [LGBT+ friendly].