GLAAD withdraws support of AT&T deal

In that letter, GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios and Justin Nelson, president of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, wrote, “What our community wants in wireless phone and Internet service is exactly what Americans in general want: more access, faster service, and competitive pricing. On all three counts, we believe that the facts strongly favor the merger.”

But gay rights activists quickly criticized GLAAD for taking a position on the merger. The furor only intensified when Politico reported last month that AT&T had donated $50,000 to GLAAD. Additionally, Troup Coronado, one of GLAAD's board members, was a former executive at AT&T.   

Both AT&T and GLAAD insisted that there was no quid pro quo. But the backlash led Barrios and six members of GLAAD’s board, including Coronado, to resign last month.

GLAAD told the FCC that it had reversed its position in a letter on Wednesday.  "A rigorous review process considered GLAAD's unique mission and concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD's work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media," the organization's acting president, Mike Thompson, said in a statement.

An AT&T spokesman said, “We recognize, and fully respect that these organizations, which do important work, will make up their own minds about whether to support the merger or remain neutral. And, though it should go without saying, the decisions made by these organizations will not in any way impact our desire to work with, partner with, or support those organizations in the future.”