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Conservatives Renew Ford Boycott

Nineteen conservative groups said Monday they would reinstate a boycott of Ford Motor Co., contending the automaker reneged on an agreement to stop supporting gay rights organizations.

The groups set up a Web site urging supporters not to buy Ford vehicles after the automaker said last December it would continue running advertisements in gay publications. The American Family Association, which is leading this latest effort, had originally called for a boycott of Ford last year but suspended it for six months at the request of some Ford dealers.

"Ford has the right to financially support homosexual groups promoting homosexual marriage, but at the same time consumers have a right not to purchase automobiles made by Ford," said AFA Chairman Donald Wildmon in a statement.

Ford, in a statement, said it was "proud of its tradition of treating all with respect and we remain focused on what we do best, building and selling the most innovative cars and trucks worldwide." Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes declined further comment.

In December, Ford said it would stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands in gay publications to reduce marketing costs. But several gay rights groups raised concerns about the plan and met with the automaker, leading to Ford's announcement that it would place corporate ads featuring all eight of its brands in gay publications.

Joe Laymon, Ford's group vice president for corporate human resources, said in December he hoped the decision would "remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue to rest."

Wildmon and other leading conservatives wrote Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford in January, asking him to remove the automaker "from involvement in the cultural war."

Randy Sharp, AFA's director of special projects, said Monday that Ford's chairman "refused to acknowledge, much less reply, to our concerns."

Gay rights organizations criticized the boycott. Brad Luna, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization, said "clear trends towards fairness, nondiscrimination, inclusion and acceptance of gays in corporate America are unstoppable."

"Any attempts to turn back the clock such as this one are out of step with the values of the majority of Americans," Luna said.

The American Family Association says it has 2 million online members who have requested e-mail alerts about different issues and it sends a monthly news journal to 160,000 homes. Other groups joining the boycott include: Center for Reclaiming America, Coalitions for America and the Liberty Counsel.

In afternoon trading Monday, Ford shares dropped 2 cents, or 0.26 percent, to $7.82 on the New York Stock Exchange.
By Ken Thomas

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