Monday, July 11, 2005

Under the GLBT Microscope

Today, Spain’s first ever legally-recognized same-sex marriage took place. Two men, who have been a couple for 30 years, took their vows in a city council room in the Madrid suburb of Tres Cantos.

Meanwhile, here in America, we’ve seen a great deal of back-and-forth motion on the issue of gay marriage. Some states are embracing the idea of recognizing gay unions, mostly calling them “civil unions” rather than “marriage.” On the flip side of the coin, other states have outlawed them through voter referendums and constitutional amendments.

Where does that leave the American gay consumer? For one, they’re left with a mix of hope and disappointment.

As a result, however, gays and lesbians are increasingly paying attention to the corporate behavior of the brands that they use. A company that shows its support of the gay community, whether through anti-discrimination policies and same sex benefits and/or sponsorships of GLBT-related events, can make huge gains in attracting this fiercely loyal group to their products. Likewise, a brand that expresses an opposing view stands to lose this consumer base for a long time…and believe us, the GLBT community has a very long collective memory.

And what about those gay agnostic companies somewhere in the middle? They may not lose their existing gay customers, but they certainly won’t put themselves in a position to tap this $615 billion market either.

Something to consider:
What are your company’s policies toward its GLBT employees? If it’s anything shy of a written anti-discrimination policy and same-sex partner benefits, there’s definite room for improvement. Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading gay rights organization, just published its “State of the Workplace for LGBT Americans” report. It can be accessed online at