Business leaders may want to avoid the “culture wars” that rage around election time, but many organizations could find themselves targeted by online campaigns for and against different causes.
Microsoft recently found itself the target of gay rights activists when a petition drive targeting the software giant picked up steam.
Unwilling to alienate a key (and affluent) consumer demographic from its products and service, Microsoft has decided to remove its online store from the “Christian Values Network” (CVN).
The move came after after more than 500 people signed Stuart Wilber’s petition asking the software company to stop allowing the funding of anti-gay “hate groups” identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
CVN is an online service that encourages visitors to buy products and services through their site. The vendors who sell on the site then donate a portion of the sale to the charity of the shopper’s choice.
Many of the CVN charities are groups that oppose gay rights issues and activities — organizations like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Summit Ministries, Abiding Truth Ministries and the Liberty Counsel.
These groups have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate groups” for their ideas and activities concerning gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
Looks like the next company in the LGBT community’s cross-hairs will be Apple, which links its iTunes store to the CVN site. There’s now a petition aimed at the Mac makers to pull their store from the site as well.
More than 1,300 people have signed Washington State University student Ben Crowther’s Change.org petition asking Apple to remove their online store from CVN.
Rapidly changing public attitudes about gay rights could mean that any company associated with groups that oppose things like same-sex marriage or employment equality could come under fire from the well-funded and highly motivated gay rights community.