ExxonMobil Shareholders Vote No on Same-Sex Couple Benefits in USA

By Jon Street | June 5, 2012 | 9:27pm EDT

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- ExxonMobil is resisting pressure from homosexual activists after 80 percent of its shareholders voted against a resolution to broaden the company’s equal employment opportunity policy to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” at the 2012 annual shareholders meeting in Dallas, Tex., on May 30.

“Benefit coverage for spouses is based on legally recognized spousal relationships in the individual countries where we operate,” said Kimberly Brasington, a media relations adviser for ExxonMobil.

“In the United States, we have adopted the definition of spouse used in federal law," said Brasington. "Employees in countries where national law recognizes same-sex relationships receive spousal benefits under ExxonMobil programs.”

The resolution that was voted down by a large majority of ExxonMobil's shareholders on May 30 said, "The Shareholders request that ExxonMobil amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to substantially implement the policy."

ExxonMobil employs about 82,000 people worldwide and already prohibits discrimination against employees.  In a Jan. 20 letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, ExxonMobil's coordinator for corporate securities and finance, James Parson, wrote: "[T]he Employment Policies and Practices page on ExxonMobil's internet site now specifically states that our zero-tolerance policy against any form of employment discrimination covers both sexual orientation and gender identity.  'Policies against discrimination -- Any form of discrimination by or toward employees, contractors, suppliers, and customers in any ExxonMobil workplace is strictly prohibited. Our global, zero-tolerance policy applies to all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.'"

Despite that policy, gay advocacy groups are still calling on ExxonMobil to approve the resolution that was voted down by the shareholders.

(AP Photo)

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgener (LGBT) activist group, said in a news release, “ExxonMobil is behind the curve while the rest of corporate America protects LGBT workers.”

“The shareholder resolution to add sexual orientation and gender identity to ExxonMobil’s EEO policy was a non-binding referendum and the company still has the chance to do the right thing,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

ExxonMobil requested a shareholder resolution in March from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would allow it to exclude sexual orientation and gender identity from its equal employment opportunity (EEO). The SEC denied that request.

The pro-homosexual resolution was being pushed largely by New York comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees a pension trust fund that holds about $1.3 billion worth of ExxonMobil stock shares.

This is the 13th consecutive year in which the shareholders of the nation’s largest oil corporation have voted to uphold their current policy.

In 2012, 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies included provisions for sexual orientation in their EEO clauses while 50 percent included acts to protect gender identity.

“As perhaps the largest corporation in the country, ExxonMobil has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen; sadly they have fallen far short,” said Solmonese.

“The company has resisted offering basic employment protections for their LGBT workers for years and its time they treat all of their employees like the valuable assets they are,” he said.

But while some organizations are criticizing ExxonMobil’s decision, others are commending what they call a “refreshing change” from companies that “continue to alienate customers with radical political views,” stated an online news release from the conservative Family Research Council (FRC).

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the FRC, told CNSNews.com, “The fact that ExxonMobil has adopted none of the pro-homosexual policies demanded by groups like the Human Rights Campaign, yet remains the second largest corporation in America, demonstrates the falsehood of claims that such policies are necessary to attract a quality workforce.”

“On the contrary, other corporations would be wise to follow ExxonMobil's example,” said Sprigg, “focusing on their core business rather than on appeasing small populations and special interest groups.”

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