American Family Association Ends Boycott of Ford Over "Gay" Ads

March 12, 2008
The American Family Association says it's ending its controversial boycott of Ford Motor Company after two years, saying that its goals were met and that the company has suffered for its support for gay organizations.

The boycott started two years ago, when the AFA called for its members to stop spending money with Ford and its brands, which include Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. The association, which cites religious and moral principles for its anti-gay stance, said a Ford boycott would force the company to disavow contributions to gay groups like the Human Rights Campaign, which Ford had supported.

The AFA declared victory -- but Joe LaMuraglia, our colleague and the founder of Gaywheels.com, calls the AFA's rationale for the end of the boycott "laughable."

"AFA's claim that they were responsible for Ford's sales decline is so laughable that I don't know what to say," LaMuraglia blogged on his site, which informs users on the gay-friendly status of various automakers. "It is akin to me taking responsibility for all of Saturn's sales growth because they sponsored us at a Gay Pride event. Their boycott may not have helped Ford but it was by no means the primary reason they've fallen on hard times."

LaMuraglia said that the Ford ad cuts were a result of big losses, not political pressure, and cited a letter from Ford public relations on the matter that said the company was "committed to treating everyone fairly and with respect, including our dealers, customers and employees....Difficult business conditions in recent years have reduced our overall spending across the board."

What triggered it all? LaMuraglia says it may have been Ford's relationship with the HRC and a promotion that directly linked the company to the organization. "As a gay man, I thought the idea was great. They were clearly supporting our community," he says. "As a marketing professional, I thought it was risky move that clearly hit the nerve of the AFA. All they saw was that Ford supported HRC and HRC = gay marriage. Can you say controversial topic?"

Speaking of controversy, we want to know what you think of the role of auto companies in supporting gay causes - but we strongly recommend you keep the discussion civil, otherwise we'll have to block you, as the commercial goes. Talk to us in a comment below.

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