Friday, July 24, 2009

Buycotts, Not Boycotts

Today's guest posting comes to us from PFLAG National President John Cepek:

One day last May, Char called me on my cell phone.

“I’ve just been in an automobile accident.”

“Are you OK?”

“Yes, I’m fine, but our car isn’t.”

“I’ll pick you up.”

When I arrived at the scene of the accident, I saw our forlorn 2003 Camry, front end totally collapsed, the hood folded like a pretzel.

State Farm quickly informed us they considered the car a total wreck. We picked up the check and visited our local Toyota dealer. The deceased Camry was our second; our 1996 model is still running strong. We really like Toyotas. We almost bought another.

In fact, we would have had I not remembered a couple of facts about the Ford Motor Company. First, Ford was the target of a two-year boycott by the American Family Association. Second, Ford has been a longstanding, generous supporter of PFLAG. My loyalty to Toyota began to waver. I found Ford’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index: 100 percent for five years, longer than Toyota.

Then, I also remembered the many times I’ve spoken to corporations about the power of allies of the LGBT community in the marketplace. If you add the dollars spent by allies to those spent by LGBT individuals, our collective purchasing power is a significant percentage of the total US economy—maybe as much as 20 percent. Shouldn’t we use that power to move equality forward?

Finally, I also remembered the advocacy of buycotts by Ian Ayres and Jennifer Gerarda Brown in their landmark work, Straightforward:“What if, instead of punishing bad guys, we sought to reward good guys? A ‘buycott’ aims to do just that, as it bestows economic or other benefits in order to reward positive action.”

Several friends recommended the Ford Fusion. Char and I rushed to a local Ford dealer, saw a nifty red 2010 Fusion on the lot, and bought it. (Char always wanted a red car while I preferred more, well, sedate colors.) When our neighbors ask why we bought a Ford instead of a Camry, we get to talk about PFLAG and corporate commitment to equality, another benefit of going with a Ford.

I hope you like the photo of Char and me with our shiny red Fusion. If you’re ever in Indian Head Park, Illinois, give us a call. We’d be happy to give you a ride. Of course, we’ll also talk about PFLAG and moving equality forward.

In the meantime, put our money to good use, supporting those companies that share our vision and support our mission.

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