Did Ford Cave to the AFA on Gay Adverts?

Boycott — botched or butched? Ford Motor Co. announced yesterday that its Jaguar and Land Rover brands would no longer advertize in gay publications — nearly a week after the holycon American Family Association called off its suspended boycott.

According to the Associated Press, Ford blamed the change in its ad spend on money woes and the two brands’ poor performance in the marketplace.

“The decisions with regard to advertising was a business decision,” Ford spokesman Mike Moran said. He said Ford’s Volvo brand would continue advertising in gay publications. Ford hasn’t advertised its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands in those publications, Moran added.

Moran said Jaguar and Land Rover, which are part of Ford’s money-losing Premier Automotive Group, have decided to cut back on their advertising everywhere because of difficult market conditions. The Premier Automotive Group reported a pretax loss of $108 million in the third quarter.

Last Wednesday Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association canceled its boycott of Ford vehicles that began in May, when the group criticized Ford for being too gay-friendly by giving thousands of dollars to gay rights groups, offering benefits to same-sex couples and actively recruiting gay employees.

“We are ending the boycott of Ford,” association Chairman Donald Wildmon said in a statement Wednesday on the group’s Web site. “While we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future.”

The AFA implemented the boycott against Ford and its brands on May 31. But following a meeting with a group of Ford dealers, in June the AFA suspended its boycott until December. So, yesterday the cross-waving Bible-thumpers ended a boycott that had been suspended less than a month after it started. Hmmm.

The Human Rights Campaign, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and other gay rights groups expressed concern about reports there was a secret deal between Ford and the American Family Association to end Ford’s advertising in gay media.

“If there is an agreement with AFA, we expect Ford to disavow it. We expect Ford to publicly reaffirm its historic support for our community. And, we expect Ford to meet with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) representatives this week to resolve these concerns,” the groups said in the statement, which was posted Monday on the Human Rights Campaign Web site.

Ford denied any back-room agreement and reiterated its commitment to its gay-friendly policies.

In May, at about the same time it turned its Jesus-fevered eyes on Ford, the AFA ended its ineffectual nine-year boycott of The Walt Disney Co. over Disney’s decision to extend benefits to same-sex couples and promote gay-related events at its theme parks. Disney reported higher earnings and increased theme park attendance during that time.

Obviously Donald “The Wildman” Wildmon’s group is more effective when it is upholding a suspended boycott than when it is actively encouraging an extended one.

Lord, please call him home.

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