SAN FRANCISCO--March 31, 1999--Equal Benefits Advocates (EBA) announced today that they would begin airing television advertisement beginning next week supporting the boycott of United Airlines.
Sparked by lawsuits seeking to invalidate San Francisco's landmark anti-discrimination Equal Benefits Ordinance filed by United Airlines and Pat Robertson's legal foundation (American Center for Law and Justice), the advertising campaign will begin airing in the San Francisco and Los Angeles media markets next week. The campaign will expand to all major TV markets by the end of April.
"We want every lesbian and gay person to know that United Airlines and Reverend Pat Robertson share the same goal," said Jeff Getty, the commercial's producer. "This campaign will stamp United Airlines and Pat Robertson as leaders in anti-gay discrimination in the minds of gay people across the country. Because United's chosen to be on the same side as religious political extremists like Robertson, by the time this ad campaign is completed, the lesbian and gay market will be lost to the airline forever."
United Airlines is currently the subject of a nationwide boycott by the lesbian and gay community organized by the EBA. "We want every lesbian and gay man in the country to know that United Airlines and Pat Robertson want to deny lesbian and gay employees basic equity in the provision of benefits," said Jeff Sheehy, founder of the EBA.
"We chose to start in the Los Angeles and San Francisco media markets because we want to support American Airlines/Reno Air's decision to challenge United between the two cities. American Airlines is the domestic carrier which has gone furthest in offering equal benefits to lesbian and gay employees," Sheehy added.
The Equal Benefits Ordinance, passed in 1996, mandates all businesses contracting with San Francisco to offer the same benefits to domestic partners of employees that they offer to married spouses of employees. Since it came into force in June 1, 1997, the number of companies nationwide offering domestic partner benefits has grown from 500 to over 2,500.
United Airlines is the only passenger airline that has chosen not to comply and instead sue San Francisco to block implementation of the Ordinance. In September 1998, Federal Judge Claudia Wilken put together United Airlines' lawsuit with one filed on behalf of S.D. Myers Company by Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice.