June is Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall Uprising and the subsequent 50-plus years of progress made toward LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. But this year’s celebrations are tinged with some concern and even outright fear that these hard-won rights may be threatened.
While still not official, the leaked Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has many in the LGBTQ+ community concerned that the court could one day send marriage rights back to the states to be determined and, in conservative-leaning states, likely banned or repealed.
As with reproductive rights for women, United Church Funds (UCF) supports marriage equality rights for all and calls on businesses and investment allies to support the LGBTQ+ community. UCF’s commitment to support the queer community goes back to at least 1985, when the United Church of Christ’s General Synod passed a resolution calling for “Open and Affirming” congregations.
Edith Guffey, Chair of UCF’s board and a board member of PFLAG, the nation’s largest family ally organization for LGBTQ+ people, believes that supporting an equality-focused workplace will help drive the success of a business. “Corporations should look to the future and realize that the world has and continues to change. Younger generations want and will support a more diverse workforce, and they are beginning to hold corporations accountable in a different way.”
There are some encouraging examples of businesses standing up for LGBTQ+ rights. For example, over 500 major companies publicly support the Equality Act, federal legislation that would provide the same basic protections to LGBTQ persons as are provided to other protected groups under federal law. In April, the Walt Disney Company, Florida’s largest private-sector employer, came out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law bans Florida public school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom for younger students, or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publishes an annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a benchmarking tool assessing corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ employees. HRC gave Disney top marks for workforce protections, inclusive benefits and support of an inclusive culture and social responsibility. (Investors and the public can view the scores of over 1,271 companies that participate in the CEI 2022 survey here.)
Matthew Illian, UCF’s Director of Responsible Investing, said “Our position at UCF is that corporations have a responsibility to stand with LGBTQ+ people and all marginalized communities,” adding that, “we will continue to use our power as shareholders to push the companies in which we invest to actively oppose any and all repressive laws that deny people their basic freedoms and dignity.”
We wish everybody a happy, healthy and safe Pride Month.