Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gay-Rights Opponents Seek, and in Some Cases Find, Their Way into Proxies

Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2001
200 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281
Fax: 212-416-2658

Work Week

When AT&T Corp. shareholders meet May 23, they will consider a proposal to remove the words "sexual preference or orientation" from its equal-opportunity policy. The proposal’s proponents argue that because sodomy is still illegal in many states, the New York company’s policy condones lawbreaking. "The company shouldn’t be promoting it, and that’s what it seems like they do," says Steve Stefan, a Dayton, Ohio, retiree whose son wrote the proposal.

Gay-rights opponents are using a tactic once used by gay-rights groups to draw attention. Last year, Computer Associates International Inc. shareholders defeated a proposal by gay-rights opponents to do away with the company’s same-sex domestic-partner benefits. AT&T’s case is different because the company sought a so-called no-action letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission for the legal cover to exclude the proposal. But while benefits-related proposals can be excluded because they relate to ordinary business issues, discrimination policies aren’t usually seen as ordinary business, says Brian Lane, a former SEC official.

Gay advocacy groups believe the resolution is the first such challenge to sexual-orientation protections.

[Home] [News] [USA]