Dallas-based AT&T Inc., long considered a strong corporate LGBT ally, has contributed $75,000 to anti-gay Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott’s campaign for governor in 2014, according to campaign finance reports from the Texas Ethics Commission.
The reports show that AT&T’s Texas PAC gave $50,000 to Abbott’s campaign in January, and another $25,000 in June. AT&T also contributed $50,000 to Abbott’s campaign in June 2013, shortly before he formally announced his bid for governor.
Abbott, who faces Democrat Wendy Davis in November, has vigorously defended Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage in both state and federal court.
Last week, several national media outlets reported that Facebook, also known for its support of LGBT equality, had contributed $10,000 to the re-election campaign of Utah Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is appealing a decision striking down his state’s marriage bans to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The PAC supports a variety of candidates for a variety of reasons,” AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said in an email to Lone Star Q, in response to an inquiry about the contributions to Abbott. “The PAC does not comment on reasons for contributions, but publicly discloses contributions consistent with state requirements.
“Diversity and inclusion are part of AT&T’s culture and operations, and we’re proud to be recognized as a leader in this area,” Richter added. “DiversityInc recently named AT&T No. 1 on its 2014 Top 10 Employers for LGBT Employees. And every year since 2004 we’ve received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for our fair treatment of our LGBTQ employees, including protection against discrimination, parity of health care benefits for domestic partners and other criteria.”
Last month, Abbott’s office appealed a federal judge’s decision striking down Texas’ marriage bans to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a brief defending the bans, Abbott’s office argued that they are designed to promote responsible procreation, an argument that’s already been rejected by other federal appeals courts.
Abbott has also intervened repeatedly to block gay couples married in other states from obtaining divorces in Texas. He has opposed benefits for the same-sex partners of Houston city employees, and issued an opinion saying he believes domestic partner benefits offered by local government entities are illegal. Abbott opposed passage of an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in San Antonio, and has declined to disavow a plank in the Texas GOP platform endorsing gay conversion therapy.
Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Davis, supports marriage equality, LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances and a ban on gay conversion therapy.
Facebook’s contribution to Reyes, the Utah AG, has led to a Change.org petition calling for people to contribute to the campaign of his Democratic opponent, Charles Stormont.
Below are screen grabs from reports showing AT&T’s contributions to Abbott’s campaign in 2014.