Disclosures filed with the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s office have revealed Facebook, Inc. donated $10,000 to the reelection campaign of Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, an anti-LGBT politician who has fought fiercely against the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The news, which was first reported by local Utah LGBT magazine QSaltLake, quickly began circulating through the internet and when the Huffington Post questioned Facebook about its support of a politician actively working against the rights of LGBT people, a spokesperson for the social media juggernaut responded with an email defending the donation.
“Facebook has a strong record on LGBT issues and that will not change, but we make decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one,” the spokesperson wrote. “A contribution to a candidate does not mean that we agree with every policy or position that candidate takes. We made this donation for the same reason we’ve donated to Attorneys General on the opposite side of this issue – because they are committed to fostering innovation and an open Internet.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has supported controversial candidates. According to Newsweek, the company created its own Political Action Committee in 2011 and 41 percent of the contributions from that PAC have gone to politicians who have voted against LGBT rights.
In response to Facebook’s contribution to Reyes, QSaltLake assistant editor Robert Henline has launched a Change.org petition, requesting the social network make “an equal or greater contribution” to the anti-gay politician’s opponent for the office of Utah Attorney General, Charles Stormont, who supports equality for LGBT people.
“I'm an activist within the community, and Sean Reyes has drawn my distaste for his comments about the LGBT community,” Henline told Huffington Post. “So I wanted to see who was funding his campaign, and when I looked through the disclosures, I discovered that Facebook was his second-largest contributor. Being a Facebook user, I have always assumed that it was pro-equality and pro-diversity, so it shocked me.”
At the time of this writing, the petition has received over 2,800 signatures.