Victory: Disney Shareholders Reject Ex-Gay Proposal
March 12, 2010
On Wednesday morning, shareholders of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) to amend the company’s non-discrimination policies – which include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression – to include “ex-gays.” The parent company of ABC, ESPN, and Pixar recommended that its shareholders vote against the proposal. All in all, preliminary results indicate:
- 24,154,218 shares were voted in favor of the proposal;
- 1,178,038,028 shares were voted against the proposal; and
- 216,409,502 shares abstained and were thus counted as voting in favor of the Board’s position (against the proposal)
Because vote results were below 3 percent — the preliminary 24 million shares voted in favor represent 1.7 percent of votes, as reported by the company’s secretary on Wednesday — the proposal cannot be presented again for another five years. Disney will report final vote results to the SEC by Tuesday. Shareholder resolutions in favor of adding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression now enjoy popular support with resolutions at some companies achieving more than 50% approval, despite opposition from the boards. See the full language of the resolution after the jump... Proposal 2–Ex-Gay Nondiscrimination Policy Bobbie Strohbar has notified the Company that she intends to present the following proposal for consideration at the annual meeting: WHEREAS: The Walt Disney Company does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on ex-gay status in its sexual orientation employment policy and diversity training for employees. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), a national non-profit organization defines the ex-gay community as men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions who leave homosexuality by gender affirming therapy, faith based ministries, Homosexuals Anonymous support groups, or other non-judgmental environments. Their decision is one only they can make. However, there are others in society who refuse to respect individual self-determination. Consequently, formerly gay men and women are reviled simply because they dare to exist. PFOX has documented numerous incidents of intolerance against the ex-gay community. Ex-gays and their supporters are subject to an increasingly hostile environment because they live out or support a different view of homosexuality. They remain closeted because of other’s negative reactions or disapproval. Ex-gay employees are uncomfortable being open about their sexual orientation with their colleagues because they fear discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace. Disney has a sexual orientation policy and mandatory diversity training for employees that supports gays and bisexuals, but excludes any support for ex-gays. In our Nation’s Capital, the Superior Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that ex-gays are a legally protected class under sexual orientation and thus protected from discrimination under the D.C. Human Rights Act. RESOLVED: The shareholders request that Disney amend its sexual orientation policy to explicitly include the prohibition of discrimination based on ex-gay status. SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Employee discrimination diminishes employee morale and productivity. Disney’s exclusion of ex-gays from its sexual orientation policy and program reinforces the second-class status of ex-gays, and contributes to the negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals. Disney’s exclusion also disregards diversity and the basic human right to dignity and self-determination. Adding ex-gays to Disney’s sexual orientation policy and programs, which already include gays and bisexuals, will increase diversity, assure equality in the workplace, and be inexpensive for the Company to implement. Because state and local laws differ with respect to employment discrimination, our Company would benefit from a consistent, corporate-wide policy to further enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve complaints internally to avoid costly litigation or damage to its reputation, access employees from the broadest possible talent pool, and ensure a respectful and supporting atmosphere for all employees. I urge you to vote for this beneficial proposal which serves to increase diversity at minimal cost.