By Rick Jacobs
Originally published on Advocate.com May 26 2011 2:05 PM ET
As a gay man, I can be intolerant, and proudly so. But let me explain what I mean. My intolerance extends only to those who espouse intolerance against other groups of Americans, for instance, African-Americans, Muslims, Catholics, or gays (who happen to be part of each of the foregoing communities).
Last week the Courage Campaign, of which I am the chair and founder, along with Media Matters for America, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and Equality Matters, launched the DropFox campaign to persuade Orbitz, previously a strong supporter of and marketer to the LGBT community, to stop advertising on Fox News.
So far, the results have been spectacular — nearly 200,000 people have expressed their outrage at Orbitz's hypocritical business practice of appealing to the LGBT community, cheerfully accepting our hard-earned dollars, but then turning around and providing millions of dollars so Fox News can broadcast lies and hate — intolerance — about the very same LGBT community. On Tuesday, CREDO Action and the League of Conservation Voters, along with their members, joined us in asking Orbitz to drop the ads because of Fox News' history as climate change deniers.
We know we're winning because Bill O'Reilly, official gasbag of Fox News, spent eight minutes of Monday night's show urging "everyone in America" to use Orbitz and then "interviewed" Brit Hume about why Fox News is so clever. I started to laugh, but then realized that these guys do a lot of harm, and that, of course, is why we want Orbitz to drop its support for O'Reilly, Hume, Huckabee, and Fox News.
What did Orbitz do?
The travel site issued a statement mentioning quite a few times its commitment to promoting "tolerance, nondiscrimination, and equality" and citing accolades it has received from the LGBT community over the years. Orbitz certainly deserved those awards, and it would deserve even more if it stopped "tolerating" us and just included us in the American fabric, but that's not the point.
We are asking Orbitz to renew its once-strong commitment to the LGBT community and stop spending the profits it has made off of us to pay for advertising on antigay Fox News. Period.
This is, quite simply, a matter of right and wrong, and what Orbitz is doing is wrong.
What makes it even worse is that Orbitz then hides its head in the sand: Brian Hoyt, vice president of communications for the online travel agency, told The Hollywood Reporter May 19 that the company doesn't "favor one political side over another."
Equally baffling were Hoyt's tweets, under the aptly named @SpinDoctorHoyt:
Tolerance and equality for all? Pro-LGBT? Nobody's political football?
Come on. People already know it has been supportive and "tolerant" of the LGBT community.
And then just yesterday, Hoyt issued an response letter saying "Our tone ... is the result of dealing with the tired tactics of these shady so-called non-profit fringe groups like the one that attacked Orbitz." Wow. Shady, fringe groups? Really?
Are Orbitz officials playing dumb or do they just think we are? They have labeled this a smear campaign and are describing it as a marketing ploy (since we're not selling anything, I wonder to whom they think we are marketing). They repeat over and over how much they love gays. It's a tried-and-true and transparent tactic.
Orbitz is trying to avoid responsibility for the hateful speech and intolerance that its ad money is paying for. Oh, and did we mention that companies carefully analyze programming and demographic information when deciding where to allocate their precious ad dollars?
So again, thank you, Orbitz, for publicly expressing your love for the LGBT community. We have felt it over the years, and we've reciprocated in turn with our hard-earned dollars. But if you're going to preach tolerance as one of your core corporate values, don't be hypocritical by supporting an organization that actively promotes homophobia.
We are tired of spending our money on businesses and corporations that use our money against us. We can afford to be choosy, and we have plenty of choices. As long as Fox News keeps paying folks like O'Reilly to spout off about how gay marriage is like marrying animals, there's a problem. Until then, Orbitz can stubbornly keep losing customers over ads on one news network when it too has plenty of other choices. If Orbitz really wants to stand up for equality, it must stop funding mouthpieces for inequality.
It's as if Orbitz is telling Fox News: Keep doing what you're doing. It's all good. All television stations and networks are created equal. Just show us the money and we'll turn a blind eye as to how your homophobia clearly goes against our commitment to so-called tolerance and nondiscrimination.
It's laughable to say tolerance and equality apply to hatemongers. These guys at Fox News, they don't deserve tolerance. Not in my book. I'm intolerant of hate because I love America, not just little slices of it.