Ford Faces Renewed Conservative Boycott

By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ford Motor Co. is facing a boycott from a coalition of 19 conservative groups that have challenged the automaker's decision to resume advertising in gay-themed publications after an initial decision not to advertise.

The boycott is being led by the American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss. The group said Ford reneged on an earlier agreement to stop advertising in the publications and end all charitable giving to groups that support gay issues. The group is calling for members to boycott all Ford-built models, including Ford's European luxury brands -- Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar.

"It's a culture war," said Randy Sharp, director of special projects at the American Family Association. By spending its money with gay groups and in gay publications, Ford is helping proponents of gay marriage, Sharp said, which the association opposes.

"If Ford is going to use its profits to be active in the culture war regarding homosexuality, we are simply going to ask people not to support them through buying Ford products," Sharp said.

Other groups involved in the boycott include the Center for Reclaiming America, Citizens for Community Values and Vision America. The American Family Association owns 200 radio stations under the American Family Radio name and says it has 2 million online supporters.

The association first issued a boycott threat to Ford early last year. The group decided to back off after intervention by a big truck dealer in Texas. The dealer and executives representing the automaker met with Donald E. Wildmon, the American Family Association's chairman. At the meeting, the association claimed that Ford agreed to its demands, although Ford disputes this account.

At the same time, Ford announced that it would cease advertising Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in the gay media but said the move was a business decision. Facing an uproar from gay activist groups -- and a potential vehicle boycott from them -- Ford quickly reversed course.

A Ford spokeswoman said the automaker's position has not changed since Ford reversed itself in December. "Ford is proud of its tradition of treating all with respect," she said.

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