HOUSTON VOICE • JANUARY 7, 2000
Exxon Mobil 'took something' away from gays
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domestic partner benefits will be allowed to
keep them, but former Exxon employees
and former Mobil employees who had not
already signed up for the benefits will not
Exxon's nondiscrimination policy, which
does not mention protection based on sexual orientation, applies to all employees of
the newly merged company.
DiDonato said the idea for the Equality
Rally came from a discussion of Exxon
Mobil's policies and benefits on the
Houston Activist Network, an email discussion list for gay men and lesbians. He
said that he and two other activists
worked to secure the city park at the intersection of Brazos and Pease for the rally.
The park is in downtown, near Exxon
Mobil's Houston offices.
The rally is a way for gay men and lesbians to show their opposition to the policy
and benefits changes without having to
travel to the company's headquarters in
Irving, a suburb of Dallas, DiDonato said.
"We think there is plenty of upper management down here," he said.
Organizers hope for hundreds to attend
the rally, which is intended to show nonviolent opposition to the company's
changes, DiDonato said.
"We want to make a statement, and we
want to make it a very peaceful statement,"
he said. "We can get equal rights if we ask
for them in a peaceful manner."
DiDonato said he encourages gay men
and lesbians to send receipts for purchases
from gay-friendly oil companies to rally
organizers to be passed on to Exxon Mobil.
People attending the rally are also
encouraged to bring their Exxon and Mobil
credit cards to destroy them at the event in
a public display of dissatisfaction with the
new company, DiDonato said.
The event seems to be gaining some
momentum, as the Houston Gay & Lesbian
Political Caucus weighed in Wednesday,
approving a resolution encouraging gay
men and lesbians to buy products from
companies other than Exxon Mobil.
Exxon Mobil spokesman Tom Cirigliano
said he had not heard about the Houston
event, but when he was informed by a
reporter, said he is displeased to leam of the
effort. The event may be the result of misinformation in the media, he said.
"We think it is unfortunate [that a rally is
planned]," Cirigliano said. "We think there
has been a lot of misinformation out there."
He said the company does not oppose
same-sex marriage, but that it has chosen to
adopt a broad policy rather than one that
mentions specific categories of people outside of categories required by federal law.
"A lot of organizations, a lot of gay
organizations, believe that once you've covered sexual orientation, you've covered the
world," he said. "It isn't true. It isn't going
to happen here."
Cirigliano said Mobil Corp. no longer exists,
so any policies it had are no longer an issue.
Cirigliano said the company bases its
benefits on legally recognized marriages
and partnership because benefits based on
other criteria would force the company to
invade the privacy of employees to verify
"We don't think any company has the
right or the knowledge to get into personal
relationships," he said.
Exxon Mobil, which does 80 percent of its
business outside the U.S., recognizes same-
sex relationship in Holland, for example,
because they are legally recognized there,
"This isn't a political issue. This isn't a
gay issue. It's a matter of personal rights.
We believe that there is only one criterion
we can apply throughout the world: Is it a
legally recognized partnership?" he said.
Chris Martin, spokesman for the Gay and
Lesbian Alliance at the former Mobil Corp.,
said he hopes upcoming meetings with company officials will push Exxon Mobil to clarify its position on nondiscrimination.
When told by the Houston Voice about
Cirigliano's statement that the company
has a broad nondiscrimination policy that
includes everyone instead of mentioning
specific groups, Martin said Cirigliano is
"not incorrect, technically."
Martin also said he is not sure if company
officials are committed to doing the right
thing for its gay and lesbian employees.
Exxon Mobil has bucked the national trend
Dan DiDonato is helping to organize a Houston
rally against Exxon Mobil.
of companies offering domestic partner benefits and including sexual orientation in
nondiscrimination policies, Martin said.
"The company is going to have to go
back at some point to adopt what Mobil
had in the first place," he said.
The Equality Rally
City park at Brazos and Pease
Jan. 28, 4 p.m.
P.O. Box 667221
Houston, Texas 77266
Controversies in HIV Care
This educational program will focus on two of the most pressing issues facing
people with HIV—drug resistance and lipodystrophy (fat redistribution). Come
hear the latest treatment information available, and use the opportunity to ask
questions of local physicians and HIV/AIDS advocates.
DATE: Monday, January 10
LOCATION: The Power Center
12401 South Post Oak Road
TIME: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Buffet Dinner
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Topics of Discussion
- Understanding HIV-associated
- HIV Drug Resistance: Planning
for Long-term Treatment Success
American Foundation for AIDS Research
To RSVP: Call (800) 203-8440
or e-mail HIVCare@medisolutions.com
Cosponsored locally by AIDS Foundation Houston