News Articles

6/5/97 Land, others ask American Airlines to abandon pro-homosexual policies

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist ethics agency head Richard Land and five other conservative Christian leaders have appealed to American Airlines in a full-page advertisement in The Washington Times and Dallas-Fort Worth area newspapers to abandon policies that “promote homosexual behavior.”
The open letter to Robert Crandall, American’s chairman and chief executive officer, expresses opposition to what it says are policies “that give preferential treatment to homosexuals” and “marketing programs that advance the anti-family agenda of militant homosexuals and sponsor events where dangerous and even illegal activities occur.”
The letter, published June 4 in The Times, cited these examples:
— serving as the official carrier of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers Network.
— officially sponsoring homosexual “circuit” parties that, according to The Advocate, a homosexual magazine, are AIDS fund-raisers in various cities that include open, illegal drug use and illicit sex.
— instituting “sexual orientation” as a category, like race and gender, deserving protection in the work place.
— targeting the homosexual market, including providing discounts for “domestic partners” and for travel connected with homosexual celebrations such as Cherry Jubilee in Washington. (Although not cited in the ad, American is providing discounted air travel to Gay and Lesbian Day June 7 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and is listed as the airline of choice in an Out magazine ad for a party at Disney-MGM Studios that night. (Out is a homosexual magazine.)
— contributing to homosexual organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Signing the letter were Gary Bauer, president of Family Research Council; James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family; Beverly LaHaye, chairman of Concerned Women for America; Don Wildmon, president of American Family Association; James Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries, and Land, president of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission.
Bauer, LaHaye, Wildmon and Kennedy had sent a letter to Crandall in February expressing similar concerns.
“It saddened me that American Airlines would engage in the kind of pro-homosexual policies outlined in our open letter to Chairman Crandall,” Land said. “Clearly, the activities outlined in the letter are contrary to the values of the vast majority of Americans and the vast majority of American Airlines passengers.”
American Airlines issued a brief written statement in response: “We are very sorry that these groups disagree with our company’s policy of treating all customers and employees with kindness and respect.”
The organizations sought to place the ad in USA Today, the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram but were rejected by all three papers. American’s corporate offices are located in Forth Worth. The ad was to run in seven smaller papers in the Dallas-Forth worth area either June 4, 5 or 6.
“You would think that newspapers, above all others, would place more value on freedom of expression and freedom of the press than to refuse an advertisement because they were fearful of the controversy it would stir or out of a desire not to offend a powerful corporation,” Land said. “I thought freedom of speech and freedom of the press meant the dissemination of the widest possible variety of opinions and views.”
The open letter also says American’s provision of discounts for homosexuals “discriminates against millions of traditional families struggling to raise children on tight budgets that, unlike affluent homosexuals, truly need discounted fares.”
In a June 2 article, the Orlando Sentinel reported Overlooked Opinions, a Chicago-based polling firm, recently found the average homosexual male household income in the United States is $51,624 and for lesbians it is $42,755. The average for all households is $36,520, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“If you look at the demographics, gay and lesbian travel is a very lucrative and attractive niche to get into,” Chris Privett of the American Society of Travel Agents told the Sentinel.