US anti-gay group launches boycott of Ford
DETROIT — A conservative Christian group has launched a boycott of Ford Motor Co., saying the automaker had reneged on a pledge to drop its advertising in gay publications and support of gay rights groups.
The Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association first threatened a boycott in May, but suspended the move in June after several Ford dealers stepped in to broker a settlement.
In December, Ford decided pull advertising for its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands from gay publications, but then reversed course after coming under fire from gay-rights activists for having conceded to pressure from the AFA.
“Ford has every right to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups promoting homosexual marriage. But those who oppose homosexual marriage have every right not to buy automobiles made by Ford Motor Company,” the AFA said in a statement on its Web site.
The group is headed by Don Wildmon, a United Methodist minister, and its Web site says it has 3 million “supporters.” The AFA said its Ford boycott was being backed by 18 other groups.
The controversy comes at a difficult time for Ford, which is struggling to reverse a slide in market share and return its core automotive operations to profitability.
Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said in response to the boycott announcement, “Ford is proud of its tradition of treating all with respect and we remain focused on that we do best, building and selling innovative cars and trucks worldwide.”
Ford is not the first company to come under fire for its stance on homosexual rights. Other large companies including Microsoft Corp. and Walt Disney Co. have also found themselves facing demands from groups on both sides of the cultural divide.
In declaring a one-year boycott of Ford, the AFA cited the car maker’s sponsorship of gay-pride events in the United States and Britain and its practice of requiring employees to undergo diversity training.
“The goal of every homosexual organization supported by Ford is to get homosexual marriage legalized,” the AFA said.