25 October 2005

Gay-friendly car companies

With my Ford sitting at home, with its registration expired due to failing emissions, I've been driving around town in my BMW. The 3-series exudes a very youthful, sporty, fun-loving, and progressive character, and is an extremely popular car here in Los Angeles.

Gaywheels.com would like me to think twice though. Given that Ford has been offering domestic partner benefits while BMW North America isn't, the site would rather have me drive the Ford (as soon as I can get it fixed, that is). GM, Toyota, and Subaru, as well as VW/Audi and Porsche also offer domestic partner benefits to US-based employees, while Hyundai/Kia doesn't.

The conclusions were more or less in line with what I've been expecting; Saab (GM owned) and Subaru have been aggressively marketing to the gay community for ages, and Ford has recently taken flak from conservative groups for offering $1,000 rebates to gay Jaguar customers, while BMW hails from primitive Bavaria (home of Pope Benedict) and Hyundai/Kia is in the grips of the conservative Korean-American community.

Gaywheels.com's methodology is extremely simple though, checking only for the presence of domestic partner benefits for US-based employees of a given car company. I will need to remember lots of other factors that determine how responsible a corporate citizen a given car company is, such as its environmental stewardship, political contributions, and general treatment of workers. The policies of the company in its home country and worldwide also need to be taken into account; BMW's labor relations back in Germany are considered the best in the industry. When all those factors are thrown in, Ford and Toyota are suddenly far less attractive.

The Gaywheels.com study reminded me that in making decisions - regarding cars or anything else - I need to consider all factors, not just a litmus test, and that blindly following the agenda of one community (in this case, the gay community) will not necessarily be in my, or the greater society's, best interest.