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GLAAD Takes Back Its Support for AT&T Merger

GLAAD Takes Back Its Support for AT&T Merger

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The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is undoing another of the controversial stances taken by its former president, Jarrett Barrios.

Today it sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission withdrawing GLAAD's support for a pending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. Barrios had originally lined the group up in favor of the move, claiming that "faster wireless Internet options" would benefit activism for gay rights while also bettering society on health care and in the arts.

But backlash ensued when AT&T's donations to GLAAD were questioned as an attempt to buy favor. And Barrios stepped down, along with a board member who was a former AT&T vice president.

Acting president Mike Thompson said a review of the stance found it inappropriate.

"A rigorous review process considered GLAAD's unique mission and concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD's work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media," said Thompson.

Thompson said in a release that focusing the group on its core programs takes precedence. "It is GLAAD's work on the ground with local organizations and behind-the-scenes with national and local media that will continue to grow support for our community's equality," he said.

Earlier in the year, Barrios was forced to withdraw another letter to the FCC that had bungled an attempt to take a stance on net neutrality. Barrios said his signature on the letter had been forged and that he hadn't actually seen the text before it was submitted, which only added to criticism.

"Our initial support of the proposed merger of AT&T with T-Mobile has led to some confusion about GLAAD's position on net neutrality, in part because of AT&T's own opposition to net neutrality regulation," writes Thompson. "Please be aware that GLAAD disagrees with AT&T's position in this area."

The statement credits net neutrality with the "free expression" available now on the Internet, creating a "plethora of online resources available to otherwise isolated LGBT Americans seeking help" on a range of personal issues. "GLAAD's own work has been effective thanks in large part to net neutrality."

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