Following an extended controversy that led to the resignation of its president, Jarrett Barrios, and eight board members, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation sent a new letter to the Federal Communications Commission July 13 expressly withdrawing its previous support for positions favored by one of its donors, AT&T.
In the new letter, GLAAD repudiated a letter it had sent to the FCC endorsing the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. The group also made crystal clear that it supports the concept of Net neutrality, despite having sent contradictory letters to the FCC on that matter previously.
The FCC has proposed Net neutrality rules to prevent Internet service providers from blocking, slowing or speeding up certain traffic as it moves through an ISP's pipes. If the rules were implemented, AT&T could not, for example, interfere with the traffic of a competitor, such as Skype, or accept money to speed up delivery of someone else's content. All content would be delivered to end users "neutrally," as is now the case.
"A rigorous review process considered GLAAD's unique mission and concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD's work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media," said acting President Mike Thompson.
In affirming GLAAD's support for Net neutrality, Thompson wrote to the FCC: "Net neutrality is one of the principles most responsible for the Internet's emergence as the dominant platform for free expression. A nondiscriminatory and neutral Internet has allowed new digital media initiatives and the blogosphere itself to flourish online. Net neutrality has cultivated the plethora of online resources available to otherwise isolated LGBT Americans seeking help with coming out, coping with and countering discrimination, suicide and HIV/AIDS prevention resources, community building and political organizing tools, and general self-expression. [sic] GLAAD's own work has been effective thanks in large part to net neutrality."
GLAAD's latest move could serve to finally put the damaging AT&T/FCC incidents behind it, and allow the organization to move forward with battling anti-gay defamation in the media and pushing for accurate and inclusive coverage and portrayals of LGBT people.