Utah attorney general Sean Reyes
Facebook Donation to Antigay Pol Gets a Big 'Dislike'

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com August 15 2014 7:39 PM ET

A Utah journalist and activist is calling out Facebook for its campaign donation to the state’s anti–marriage equality attorney general — and calling on the social media company to atone with a donation to his opponent.

Facebook contributed $10,000 to Republican Sean Reyes’s reelection campaign in May, according to disclosure forms filed with the Utah lieutenant governor’s office, reports Salt Lake Q, an LGBT publication. Reyes has been handling the defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was struck down by a U.S. district court in December. The decision was upheld by an appellate court in June, and the state has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter.

Bob Henline, assistant editor of Salt Lake Q, has created a Change.org petition demanding that Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg denounce Reyes’s anti-equality stance and, given that it can’t take back the donation, contribute an equal or greater amount to the campaign of Charles Stormont, the Democrat running against Reyes.

Henline recognizes a company’s right to donate to any candidate or cause it chooses, he tells The Advocate, but adds, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the consequences of doing so.”

His petition notes that in donating to an antigay candidate, Facebook is going against its stated commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. Facebook officials, he says, told him that the company bases its contribution decisions on a wide range of issues and cited Reyes’s work on Internet safety and patent reform. But these matters, Henline notes, are the purview of the federal government, so a state attorney general would not be in a position to have influence on them.

Stormont, he says, has said he would withdraw from the court fight over marriage equality and let the ruling stand. The Democrat also backs expanding the state’s antidiscrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, Henline says, while Reyes has advised the legislature not to even consider such a measure.

Henline says that after his petition gets 2,000 or 2,500 signatures, he will present it to Facebook.