Wal-Mart changes contribution policy

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer and non-governmental employer – facing protests over its association with homosexual activist groups – issued a statement Nov. 21 that it would “not make corporate contributions to support or oppose highly controversial issues unless they directly relate to our ability to serve our customers.”

The American Family Association, which had called for a boycott of Wal-Mart during the important shopping days following Thanksgiving, called off the boycott. Even so, on Nov. 27 Wal-Mart posted its first loss in November sales in 10 years. Same-store sales, which the company expected would be flat, were down 1 percent.

Controversy erupted when Wal-Mart sent a $25,000 donation to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in August, a move the chamber’s president said the retailer initiated. The contribution, according to a Los Angeles Times report, was to fund events and initiatives that will, with Wal-Mart’s participation, teach homosexual business owners how to become suppliers for the worldwide retail outlet. The American Family Association had said the move showed preferential treatment to homosexuals and condoned “same-sex marriage.”

Wal-Mart had contended that the partnership with the NGLCC was in line with the company’s efforts to expand beyond their rural southern roots into urban areas where shoppers are more diverse. A company spokesman also reported that Wal-Mart had partnered with other homosexual activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign. Wal-Mart also recently made a $60,000 donation to “Out and Equal,” a homosexual advocacy group that supports workplace equality for homosexuals.

Although the AFA said it was “pleased with the announcement” and encouraged its supporters to send thank-you letters to the company, Mona Williams, vice president for communications with Wal-Mart, told Baptist Press the company will continue to donate to “specific projects,” though it would “no longer give donations across the board.”