Features

The American way

National | Christian activists threaten boycott of gay-friendly airline

Issue: "Stealth Bible," March 29, 1997

Ah, the woes of an airline company president: upstart airlines forcing your fares down; OPEC raising oil prices; $100,000-a-year pilots threatening to strike for higher wages; 20 million Christians protesting your policies ...

Twenty million Christians? That's the claim made by the Family Research Council in a recent letter to Robert L. Crandall, president of AMR Corp., the parent company of giant American Airlines. Pro-family groups are up in arms over airline policies they claim promote the homosexual lifestyle. FRC lists a catalogue of complaints against American:

**red_square** The airline was named the official carrier of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network, a group founded to teach schoolchildren about homosexuality. Kristi Hamrick, FRC's communications director, says that the group is "trying to normalize homosexual relations [through] sex education curriculum aimed at schoolchildren."

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**red_square**American sponsored "circuit parties," a nationwide series of homosexual celebrations noted for their drug use and promiscuous sexual activity. Even gay magazines such as the Advocate have questioned the circuit-party scene because of the high-risk behaviors that occur there.

**red_square**The airline offers generous discount airfares to "domestic partners" of homosexual passengers.

**red_square**American has made donations to homosexual lobbying organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The airline formed a partnership several years ago with RSVP, the nation's largest gay-oriented travel company, and 5 percent of fares generated by that partnership are returned to HRC and GLAAD.

**red_square**American placed full-page ads in homosexual magazines to tout its record of earning the "highest recognition for two years in a row given by the gay travel experts at Out magazine."

To Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, such policies are a clear sign that American has gone beyond simple non-discrimination and is now actively promoting homosexuality. "We do not support the denial of any benefit rightly due homosexual employees," he wrote Mr. Crandall in a letter dated Feb. 18, "but neither do we support the extension of undue privileges in the service of an ideological agenda advanced by militants."

While Ms. Hamrick acknowledges that many companies advertise to gay consumers, she sees the actions at American as something else entirely. "It's something different when you go out of your way to extend benefits to homosexual couples. There are a lot of companies that are examining ways to reach homosexual markets, but to alter your policies and offer benefits based on the way someone has sex is something altogether different."

Along with Mr. Bauer, that original letter was signed by Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, and Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America. By last week, when American Airlines had still failed to respond, more than a dozen more organizations had added their names to the protest, including Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention's Christian Life Commission, and the Christian Coalition. American refused repeated requests to comment for this article.

Alan Wildmon, spokesman for the American Family Association, says that the matter will not be dropped if American ignores the letter. "The ultimate step would probably be a boycott. That decision would be based on what kind of response we get from them." He charges that although many companies appeal to homosexuals, American has gone out of its way to "normalize homosexuality." That fact, he says, would justify Christians in trying to clip American's wings. "Yes there are a lot of companies doing it and you can't fight them all and win, but you can sure get their attention if you take on one of them."

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