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McDonald’s adds ‘sexual orientation’ in policies; ‘

WASHINGTON (BP)–The McDonald’s Corp., the world’s leading fast-food retailer, has decided to include homosexuality as a protected classification in its employment and harassment policies, according to a published report.
The fast-food giant’s decision to include “sexual orientation” in its nondiscrimination and sexual harassment policies was reported in the April 9 issue of The Washington Blade, the District of Columbia’s weekly newspaper for homosexuals. “Sexual orientation” is a term that encompasses homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality.
Two organizations behind a shareholder proposal calling for the policy changes revealed the decision by McDonald’s, The Blade reported. Bill Whitman, a McDonald’s spokesman, told the Seattle Times the company was “heading in that direction” even before it was informed of the shareholder proposal. A vote on the shareholder resolution would have occurred in the annual meeting in May had McDonald’s not acted first.
Baptist Press sought comment from a McDonald’s spokesman at its headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., but no response had been received at deadline April 15.
The McDonald’s action raises the possibility of a “domino effect” in the fast-food industry, advocates on both sides of the homosexual rights issue acknowledged.
“Whenever you see a large company that’s a real leader in its industry taking a step like this, the competitors watch,” said Kim Mills, education director for the Human Rights Campaign, according to The Blade. McDonald’s decision “could have a domino effect. We’ve certainly seen that in other industries,” she said.
HRC is the country’s largest homosexual political organization.
Kenneth Ervin of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based pro-family organization that opposes homosexual rights, said, “It does seem to have quite a bit of impact when a company the size of McDonald’s makes a bad policy decision like this, usually leading other competitors to follow the same bad policy.”
FRC is urging readers of CultureFacts, its weekly fax newsletter, to contact Burger King and Wendy’s, the chief competitors of McDonald’s, and urge them “to not make the same mistake that McDonald’s did,” Ervin said.
“As pro-family as McDonald’s is, this is just appalling … and I think it’s going to affect them adversely. [Corporate America] often throw[s] pro-family concerns out the window in hopes of making a bigger buck, but if we’re quick to react to this we could head off what could be disastrous policy for the fast-food industry,” Ervin said.
Organizations such as FRC, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the American Family Association oppose the inclusion of “sexual orientation” in employment policies because such an action equates homosexuality with legally protected traits such as race, ethnicity, gender and religion.
“We’d be very disappointed to learn that McDonald’s had taken this step,” AFA’s Ed Vitagliano said. “It’s a part of a disturbing trend, especially of companies that have relied on families as the bulk of their consumers, to begin treating homosexuals as another minority. …
“We’re not opposed to companies treating their workers as generously as possible, but for McDonald’s” to recognize homosexuals as a minority is another indication “that homosexual activists are busy within many corporations, including those that families have come to trust,” Vitagliano said.
More than half of the Fortune 500 companies have written policies prohibiting discrimination based on “sexual orientation,” HRC’s Mills told The Blade. HRC’s Internet site lists more than 1,000 for-profit and nonprofit companies that have such policies.
Among those HRC says have nondiscrimination policies that include “sexual orientation” are: AT&T; BP Amoco Corp.; Campbell Soup Co.; Chevron Corp.; Coca-Cola; Conoco; Ford Motor Co.; General Mills; General Motors; Johnson & Johnson; Kellogg; Kentucky Fried Chicken; Levi Strauss & Co.; Mobil Corp.; Nike Inc.; Olive Garden; PepsiCo; Pillsbury; Red Lobster; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Shell Oil Co.; Shoney’s; Texaco; and Toys R Us.
The groups that wrote the shareholder proposal for McDonald’s are targeting two other corporations, Exxon and General Electric, according to The Blade. Both failed to respond to proposed shareholder resolutions, The Blade reported. GE shareholders will vote April 21 on a resolution, and Exxon shareholders will vote May 27.
The Pride Foundation, a Seattle-based group that provides grants to homosexual organizations in four states, and Trillium Asset Management, an investment firm representing an anonymous shareholder, drafted the proposal on McDonald’s, according to The Blade.
The number of companies that cover health and other benefits for the partners of their homosexual employees also continues to increase, although it is a much smaller total. Clorox informed AFA in November it had adopted a domestic-partners policy, and Proctor & Gamble recently did the same, according to HRC.
HRC’s Mills called the McDonald’s action a good interim move.
Until “the Employment Nondiscrimination Act passes, it’s helpful every time a company institutes a policy like this. It just protects more Americans,” Mills told The Blade.
The Employment Nondiscrimination Act is a bill in Congress that would add “sexual orientation” to the classes now receiving protection in the workplace.