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GLAAD Pulls Support for AT&T Deal

The group’s endorsement of the merger with T-Mobile provoked outrage over corporate donations and prompted the resignation of president Jarrett Barrios

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) withdrew its support for the AT&T and T-Mobile merger on Wednesday. 

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), GLAAD said that although AT&T had a strong track record of supporting gay and lesbian rights, corporate marriages between telecommunications giants are not part of its mission. 

Also read: GLAAD Burned by Blogosphere in AT&T Scandal

"…the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD’s work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media,” Mike Thompson, GLAAD’s Acting President, said in a statement.

GLAAD's endorsement of the deal incited a controversy about the role of corporate influence on the non-profit advocacy group and led to the ouster of its president Jarrett Barrios. 

The group's headaches began after dogged reporting by  LGBT bloggers uncovered that GLAAD lobbied the FCC on behalf of AT&T's proposed acquisition, while also banking a $50,000 donation in 2010 from the company. In other communications with the FCC, GLAAD also came out against net neutrality; a belief that Internet service providers should not be allowed to charge tolls for faster connections and premium service.

In the same note to the FCC on Wednesday, GLAAD shifted its position on net neutrality, saying that an open internet had in turn promoted greater acceptance of gays and lesbians across the Internet and throughout society.

"GLAAD is a strong supporter of the general principle of net neutrality," Thompson wrote. "Although this letter is not specific to any proposed or existing regulatory or legislative standards, we acknowledge that net neutrality is one of the principles most responsible for the Internet’s emergence as the dominant platform for free expression."