17 May 2017 Why Does Gap Oppose Religious Freedom? National Center for Public Policy Research Presents Proposal Seeking Answers from Retail Giant
Free Enterprise Project Proposal Highlights Corporate Hypocrisy: Gap, Inc. Falsely Claims Religious Freedom in the United States Discriminates Against LGBT Community While Doing Business Abroad Where Actual LGBT Persecution Exists
On the Heels of President Trump’s Executive Order Promoting Religious Liberty, FEP Calls out Corporate Boards for Hostility to Americans of Faith
San Francisco, CA / Washington, D.C. – At today’s annual meeting of Gap, Inc. investors in San Francisco, California, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) presented a shareholder proposal highlighting the company’s hypocrisy in attacking American religious freedom under the guise of supporting the LGBT community while simultaneously doing business in countries that actually discriminate against and persecute LGBT individuals.
“Religious Americans face a tremendous threat from secular corporations, such as Gap, that are acting as social justice warriors,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who presented FEP’s proposal at the Gap, Inc. shareholder meeting. “As the corporate backlash against religious freedom gains traction, Americans of faith need to wake up and realize this is a very real danger.”
At the meeting, Danhof stated:
We ask investors to support our proposal as it will hopefully shine some light on why Gap has joined with other corporations in vilifying religious freedom. In response to religious freedom measures in Indiana and Arkansas, Gap claimed that such efforts “legalized discrimination” and that “[t]hese new laws and legislation, that allow people and businesses to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation, turn back the clock on equality and foster a culture of intolerance.” That’s not true at all.
Corporations and the mainstream media have expressed concern that religious freedom laws will lead to discrimination, in part, against homosexuals. There is zero evidence for this concern. These laws only require the government to avoid interfering with religious freedom if it can do so while still achieving important government goals. One of these goals, and established law in every state of the union, is outlawing discrimination.
In response to our proposal that the company review and report on its policies for operating in high-risk regions, the company’s board claimed that “[w]e do not believe exiting certain regions protects or enhances human rights. On the contrary, local engagement protects and improves human rights.” Where is your engagement on the level the company used in Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina — or your cries of “legalized discrimination” — in nations where Gap operates that actually persecute homosexuals and give women few, if any, rights? It’s hard to take the company’s statement at face value since the far-left movement that Gap is a major part of has called for economic boycotts of states such as Indiana and North Carolina over the same legislative efforts that Gap opposes.
The National Center’s proposal is timely due to the fact that it comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order designed “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”
“After eight years under President Obama in which the White House was extremely hostile to the religious community, it is a welcome sign out of Washington that President Trump is signaling a willingness to promote religious liberty. While his executive order is larger symbolic, it nonetheless signals a drastic change in attitude from the previous administration,” said Danhof.
“Despite the political shift in Washington, corporate hostility towards religious freedom will likely increase. As liberals find themselves lacking political capital, they are increasingly turning to reliable allies in the mainstream media and among corporate leaders,” added Danhof. “If President Trump is going to promote religious freedom, expect more corporations to oppose such efforts. Look no further than the corporate backlash against Trump’s executive orders on immigration for evidence of corporate America’s desire to serve as opposition to the President.”
In advance of today’s meeting, the National Center issued a press release in which Danhof stated:
Gap apparently believes so much in advancing the LGBT agenda here in the United States that it has lent its brand to a fervent anti-religious movement. But this is a distortion of the issues. It is possible to support the LGBT community without opposing religious liberty. While Gap continues to promote distorted narratives surrounding state-level religious freedom laws here in the United States, it has operations in nations where homosexuals are persecuted. Gap executives need to explain this discord. If the company gives a full accounting in the report requested by our proposal, Gap investors — not to mention religious Americans — might get an answer to that question.
“While Gap’s executives didn’t provide a satisfactory answer to our proposal, that is itself an answer,” said Danhof. “Religious Americans should take no comfort in Gap’s view of tolerance and civil liberties. Gap might think it is promoting tolerance, but it is actually taking bigoted actions against Americans of faith.”
This was the second time this year a National Center representative has raised a proposal of this nature at a shareholder meeting (the other was Coca-Cola). In 2016, FEP brought similar proposals before shareholders at Apple, Eli Lilly, General Electric and Walmart. It also raised civil rights and federalism issues with executives of Home Depot, Nike, PepsiCo and Red Hat.
Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group — focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s Gap meeting marks the fifteenth shareholder meeting FEP has participated in during the 2017 shareholder season.
FEP activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:
- FEP’s highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation’s activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.
- FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
- Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEP’s challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
- FEP’s “Employee Conscience Protection Project” strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.
So far in 2017, FEP has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Newsmax TV, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Denver Post, Drudge Report, Business Insider, Orlando Sentinel, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.