Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wal Mart Becomes Gay Friendly; Next, Hell Freezes Over

I don't know what to think or how to feel. Wal Mart, often called "Sprawl Mart" because of its ginormous stores that seem to be ubiquitous has been an easy enough target of liberal ridicule. By offering non-union, non-benefit jobs to the working poor and savagely destroying the independent small business owner, WM was easy enough to view as a kind of retail monster - part of all that is wrong and ugly and in need of repair in our capitalistic society.

But now WM has decided to do a decent and courageous thing and is even taking some abuse for it. What's a left-leaning, self-respecting homo to do?

Wal Mart has intentionally increased its diversity program to include LBGT sensitivity. The company's definition of "immediate family" now includes same-sex partners. And earlier this year WM became involved with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. This clearly calls for a re-think of WM on my part.

A few warm gestures to their underpaid LBGT employees is not enough to make me fall completely in love with WM. But here's something that adds to the complexity of the issue: the Right Wing Religious Homophobes are now attacking Wal Mart for treating their gay employees a bit more fairly (or at least no more unfairly than their other employees).

Now, let's be clear. WM has not organized a march in favor of gay marriage. WM has not endorsed Barney Frank for president. Wal Mart just make a couple of nice gestures to their hard-working same-gender loving employees. That's all. In response, the Alabama Baptist State Convention, the Missouri Baptist Convention, the American Family Association, and Operation Rescue have all threatened Wal Mart with some form of boycott.

Admittedly, I'm a leftie, pinko, throwback to an age that still had utopian hopes. But I am continually stunned at the level of meanness that these "Christians" are capable of demonstrating. I guess they never considered that "love thy neighbor" might also include their gay neighbor. Hell, I don't even want their love. I'd settle for them just to keep their rabid hatred to themselves.

So, because WM has finally decided that its queer employees are actually human and deserve what little regard they offer their other employees, they now face the wrath of people who claim to love God and follow Jesus (much to the embarrassment of Jesus, I'm sure). This makes WM the victim of homophobia, and that makes me inclined to support them.

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