BAR: Text of SF LGBT Center Letter
Endorsing AT&T/T-Mobile Merger
Kudos to Matthew Bajko of the Bay Area Reporter, who unbeknownst to me was in touch with the local LGBT community center's leader about her letter on behalf of the phone giant AT&T and their pending merger with T-Mobile. Matthew has a story up at the BAR site that includes the full text of the center's letter to the CPUC last month. The whole piece is well worth a read:
[Gay center director Rebecca] Rolfe told the B.A.R. this week that the center has no plans to send a similar letter to the FCC nor has it taken a stance on the issue of net neutrality, which argues for no restrictions on people’s access to the Internet. Some Internet service providers, such as AT&T, have been fighting against net neutrality provisions that would restrict their ability to charge customers various usage fees for Internet access.
“We were not asked to submit one to the FCC,” wrote Rolfe in an emailed response.
In an exchange with local blogger and gay activist Michael Petrelis about the center’s CPUC letter, Rolfe noted that Albert did not request the board to submit the letter. She also stated that he didn’t take part in the board’s discussions about whether it should back the AT&T merger.
Petrelis told the B.A.R. he believes the center owes the community an explanation of how backing the merger ties into its mission statement.
“People have decided that a phone merger is a vital gay issue,” said Petrelis, who has been blogging about AT&T’s ties to various LGBT nonprofits. He referred to the company as an “octopus” in a phone interview with the B.A.R. for its multiple affiliations with LGBT groups coast-to-coast.
Here is the full text of the LGBT Community Center’s letter:
May 25, 2011
Michael R. Peevey President, California Public Utilities Commission 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102
Dear President Peevey,
AT&T has been a long standing ally and champion for the LGBT community and a close partner to the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Community Center (the Center) in our work to serve the needs of the LGBT community. I am pleased to submit this letter supporting their efforts to merge with T-Mobile.
The Center’s mission is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other in order to create a stronger, healthier and more equitable world for the LGBT people and our allies. We offer a range of resources to support the health and economic well being for the LGBT community, including help in finding jobs; starting businesses; building financial stability for individuals and families; getting connected to vital medical, legal, and social service resources; and programs to meet the needs of children, families, and seniors.
The ability to connect people with resources and opportunities – electronically as well as physically — is critical to our mission, and AT&T has been a strong partner in these efforts. From our very beginning, they supported our capital campaign, which resulted in the construction of our 35,000 square foot building, housing all of our programs and services. Most recently, they provided significant support to increase access to technology for our community, with an emphasis on access for low to moderate income individuals and community members who do not have access to technology. This support allows us to upgrade our CyberCenter which provides free access to computers and the internet, and through which we provide computer classes for seniors, youth and job seekers. AT&T’s support is also allowing us to create a new website which will provide community access to critical safety net resources, opportunities for volunteerism and civic engagement, a community wide calendar of events, and direct linkage to hundreds of resources supporting healthy and thriving individuals, families and communities.
Beyond their financial support, AT&T has been a strong community partner, encouraging their employees to volunteer and participate in community events. Over the past 10 years we have had a number of highly skilled employees volunteer with the Center, in activities ranging from serving on our board of directors to staffing our information and referral desk.
In addition, AT&T is a champion for LGBT rights in the workplace. The company received the “Corporate Leader Award” from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. This recognition showcases AT&T’s pioneering policies, including protection against discrimination, legal support, family and medical leave, employee benefits for same sex couples, and an all-around culture that promotes openness and trust.
We urge the CPUC to support this merger. We thank you for your consideration.
San Francisco LGBT Community Center