On Facebook's diversity page, the company celebrates their gay users, proclaiming "we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self." Mark Zuckerberg himself has shown up to San Francisco's Pride Parade, riding in a faux cable car down Market Street. However, when it comes to political donations, Facebook has no problem giving $10,000 to a man described as "the face legal opposition to marriage equality in America."
According to financial disclosures obtained by QSaltLake, Facebook's growing lobbying arm donated $10,000 to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes this past May.
Reyes has irked LGBT activists for his aggressive stance against gay rights. After being sworn in as Attorney General this past December, the first issue he tackled was "the defense of marriage," saying his office would be "willing to spend whatever it takes" to defend Utah's gay marriage ban, which had been struck down by a US District Court earlier that month.
Facebook's shareholders have previously expressed concern over the company's backing of anti-LGBT politicians. According to ThinkProgress, 41 percent of the company's PAC money "went to politicians who voted against LGBT rights." Shareholders have accused the social network of "supporting politicians whose voting records directly contrast the company's stated public policy priorities, and may undermine the company's business model." Those shareholders have also called upon Facebook to adopt a "public political contributions policy" to improve transparency.
In a statement to QSaltLake, a Facebook spokesperson says that Reyes' positions on LGBT rights were secondary to his pro-business bent:
Facebook has a strong record on LGBT issues and that will not change, but we make decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one. A contribution to a candidate does not mean that we agree with every policy or position that candidate takes. We made this donation for the same reason we've donated to Attorneys General on the opposite side of this issue – because they are committed to fostering innovation and an open Internet.
Activists are unhappy with Facebook's justification. LGBT supporters have begun petitioning the company, demanding Facebook "publicly decry this bigotry" and "make an equal or greater contribution" to Reyes' pro-gay opponent.