Look at the time! I seem to be 893 minutes late posting this column. Oops! Well, I certainly hope you didn’t wait for me. Eat! Eat!
When Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999 they became the world’s largest corporation. For some, that might be reason enough to boycott Exxon/Mobil. For others, the sheer ungainliness of the name – Exxon/Mobil – could be a reason to steer clear. You say you’re “running down to Starbucks,” and it just trips off your tongue. To the A&P? To Kinkos. You’re out of Kleenex or you’re flying Delta or you just bought a Hewlett Packard printer . . . these just sound right. ‘I’m just running down to the Exxon/Mobil station’ doesn’t sound homey, doesn’t sound natural. The two shouldn’t go together.
Which is apparently exactly what top Exxon executives think about Charles and me. We shouldn’t go together, either.
So when Exxon and Mobil merged, they became not just the world’s largest company, but also the first U.S. employer ever to rescind a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation. Mobil had been one of what are now 299 of the Fortune 500 companies to have such a policy. Had Exxon acquired the policy along with Mobil, the number today would have been 300 of the 500. But Exxon does discriminate against gay and lesbian employees, and proudly so. (This was no oversight – they’ve resisted plenty of pressure to change their minds.) What’s more, open merging with Mobil, Exxon closed Mobil’s ‘domestic partnership benefits’ program to any additional employees Mobil employees, let alone any Exxon employees. So if you’ve been married for two weeks, your spouse is fully covered at Exxon/Mobil. But if you’ve merely been life partners for two decades – prevented from the legal benefits of civil unions because of your sexual orientation – Exxon thinks it’s fair to deny you the same spousal benefits your coworker gets.
You know what? This sucks. It’s unfair, it’s unAmerican, and it’s something Exxon will doubtless change sooner or later. Let us never forget how Alabama Governor George Wallace – proud segregationist – eventually came around. With time, good people almost always do. Exxon will, too.
But in the meantime, how hard is it to fill up at a competitor? It’s so easy!
The Coalition to Promote Equality at ExxonMobil was formed in October of 2001, with the simple goal of getting Exxon/Mobil to rejoin the majority of America’s Fortune 500 companies – as I say, 299 of them at last count – that include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies. And to rejoin the growing number of Fortune 500 companies – 157 at last count – that offer domestic partnership benefits.
Handy phone numbers: To cancel your Exxon/Mobil credit card: 800-903-9966. To cancel your Speedpass: 877-696-6245.
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History is a vast early warning system.~Norman Cousins
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