Wal-Mart backs off

Posted: November 28, 2006

ADMIT IT. Whether you're blue-collar or blue blood, you've shopped at Wal-Mart. And the retail behemoth knows that. That's why the company thinks it can build everywhere and get into every facet of our lives - from our unmentionables to big-screen TVs.

Wal-Mart even likes gay people! In August, the retailer announced a partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

However, that relationship appears to be conditional.

On the eve of a proposed boycott by religious conservatives that threatened last weekend's post-Thanksgiving sales, Wal-Mart amended its policy to stay away from hot-button issues - even imaginary ones. Some of the critics said that siding with gay business was tantamount to backing same-sex marriage.

So Wal-Mart says it'll focus on noncontroversial topics like workplace equity.

"Going forward, we would partner with them on specific initiatives . . . as opposed to just giving blanket support to their general operating budget," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said last week.

Donald Wildmon's American Family Association had called for the holiday boycott on Friday and Saturday (because these folks probably don't shop on Sundays, anyway), saying that the business arrangement indicated "the homosexual agenda is worthy of their support."

So maybe it's a case of Operation Rescue forming a new wing: Operation Save Wal-Mart.

The national gay rights-organization Human Rights Campaign said this latest change is minor and said Wal-Mart still stands by its commitment to gay people.

Well, the only color the new Big Blue truly appreciates is green, so it's time for the queer community to show how much purchasing power we really have. Maybe it's time to avoid Wal-Mart.

There are plenty of places to buy that new digital camera you've been eyeing. And don't even be swayed by the fact that Wal-Mart caved in last summer and stocked "Brokeback Mountain."

Wal-Mart had a chance to nurture its new relationship with us.

But, instead, it chose to try being all things to all people. Sad, but, really, what would you expect? *

Deb Woodell is a Daily News sports desk editor. Her column on lesbian and gay issues appears monthly. Send e-mail to woodeld@phillynews.com.

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