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Wisconsin congressman urges passage of ENDA, takes on anti-gay ExxonMobil

Jun 5, 2013
In The News

Openly gay U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, in a floor speech June 5, urged passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would ban workplace bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Democrat from Madison also criticized ExxonMobil and its shareholders, who in May rejected a policy to protect LGBT workers from discrimination.

Before a 1999 merger, employees at Mobil were protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and the company also offered health benefits to domestic partners of employees. When Exxon acquired Mobil, it eliminated the partnership benefits and removed the non-discrimination protections.

That fueled a boycott and also work by Human Rights Campaign, the New York City Pension Funds and other groups to change corporate policy through a resolution at the shareholders annual meeting. In 2011, the shareholder proposal received votes representing more than 500 million shares with a market value of more than $42.4 billion. This year, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli again sponsored the shareholder resolution, which was defeated in late May.

Pocan said on the floor, “This June, as we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, LGBT Americans have much to celebrate. Every day this country moves closer and closer towards embracing full equality for all its citizens. And yet, the path toward equality and justice saw a setback last week when one of our nation’s largest companies chose to deny fundamental workplace protections for its employees.”

Regarding ExxonMobil, Pocan said, “This is a company that has received more than $1 billion in government contracts over the past decade. Simply put, the government should not be in business with companies that discriminate.

“Exxon’s decision makes it a part of shrinking minority – 88 percent of Fortune 500 Companies specifically ban employee discrimination based on sexual orientation. BP does not discriminate. Chevron does not discriminate. Shell Oil does discriminate. But ExxonMobil does. And their anti-equality policies should start to hurt their bottom line.”