Should Consumers Vote With Their Dollars on Gay Rights Issues?

More opportunities for boycotts and buycotts.

By + More

Remember when progressives staged a boycott of Whole Foods after CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed criticizing single-payer healthcare, and critics of Obamacare staged a "buycott" to promote the company? Of course, that won't be the last time activists use consumer power as ammunition in political battles.

What was strange about that episode is that Mackey has for a long time publicly declared himself as a libertarian, and made clear he supports economic policies many progressives find horrific. But what about companies where we don't know the ideologies of executives? Activists have an incentive to find out those secrets.

Enter the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign. It's an annual index that rates companies based on what HRC sees as adherence to LGBT rights. Large employers filled out surveys with questions regarding company policies toward LGBT people, such as harassment policies, or benefits for same-sex couples.

You might think that because it's a voluntary survey, only the most progressive companies would comply. BUt HRC says that the index reveals stark differences between some competing companies.

Here's a rundown of some of the biggest disparities. A "100" score on the index indicates perfect adherence to HRC's rating criteria on LGBT equality:

· General Mills (100% CEI score) vs. Kellogg’s (65% CEI score)

· Visa, MasterCard, American Express (100% CEI scores) vs. Discover Card (58% CEI score)

· Orbitz (100% CEI score) vs. Expedia (65% CEI score)

· Dell (100% CEI score) vs.Acer/Gateway Computers (50% CEI score)

· Best Buy (100% CEI score) vs. Radio Shack (40% CEI score)

· Staples (93% CEI score) & OfficeMax (90%) vs. Office Depot (45% CEI score)

· Mattel (95% CEI score) vs. Hasbro (50% CEI score)

HRC's press release says that these differences create "a real opportunity for equality-minded consumers to flex their collective spending power in numerous different industry categories."

Could opponents of, say, same-sex marriage, do what the Obamacare opponents did to Whole Foods—"buycott" the companies that don't do as much to promote LGBT equality?