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JUNE 25, 2004
Rocky Mountain rhetoric
won't fly for Coors
Coors Brewing Co. has long struggled to distance
itself from the family owners, but now Pete Coors
is running for Senate on the backs of gay customers.
By MUBARAK DAHIR
0 PARAPHRASE AN ADAGE,
you can't have your mug of
beer and drink it, too.
But that's exactly what
members of the Coors family, namesakes of the Coors
Brewing Company in
Golden, Colo., are trying to get away with
among gay customers of their company
Pete Coors, a former chair of the
Coors Brewing Co., is now a Republican
candidate for the U.S. Senate from
Pete Coors has also become an outspoken supporter of a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex
Political analysts watching the U.S.
senate race in Colorado say Pete Coors
took the strong stand that he did — not
just against same-sex marriage, but fully
in favor of an amendment to enshrine the
ban in the Constitution — to appeal to
conservatives who make up a substantial
base of his candidacy.
Pete Coors' anti-gay stance on the
Federal Marriage Amendment re-ignited
calls from many gay leaders for us to stop
buying Coors beer at gay bars.
Furthermore, a large number of Coors
family members — who profit directly
from the Coors Brewing Co. — are board
members of a private institution, the
Castle Rock Foundation, which gives
away millions of dollars to conservative,
This fact, and its consequences, is
even more important for us to consider
than Pete Coors' anti-gay position on the
Federal Marriage Amendment.
The Castle Rock Foundation was
founded in 1993 with a $36.5 million
endowment from the Adolph Coors
Foundation. Since then, it has given away
millions of dollars of grants to often conservative, anti-gay groups.
According to the group's Web site,
four out of five of the board members of
the Castle Rock Foundation are members
of the Coors family. Pete Coors is the vice
Where did Pete Coors and the other
Coors famUy members on the board of
the Castle Rock Foundation get their
money and power? Through the Coors
AND YET, THE COORS BREWING CO.
and the Coors family have gone on a public relations blitz to distance themselves
from each other. In a nutshell, they each
claim to be independent of one another,
and thus not responsible for the others'
actions or stands on gay rights.
In fact, in early June, the Coors
Brewing Co. issued a letter stating that
Pete Coors' position on the Federal
Marriage Amendment does not reflect
the corporate values of the Coors
Brewing Co. The letter stated that the
company does not endorse discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or
In addition, the Coors Brewing Co.
started running full-page ads in gay
newspapers and magazines around the
country. In the ads, humorously headlined "Straight talk from Coors," the company goes to some length to describe the
positive changes within the company in
the past couple of decades with respect to
how it treats gay employees.
Most notably, the change is reflected
in the company's nondiscrimination policy, as well as the fact that the company
offers health benefits to partners of gay
The Coors Brewing Co. has a long
and tortured history on gay issues, dat
ing back to the early 1970s, when it used
to require prospective employees to submit to a lie detector test. One of the
questions on the test was whether or not
the hopeful employee was a homosexual.
Outrage over that practice prompted
former San Francisco supervisor Harvey
Milk to kick-off a boycott of the Coors
Brewing Co. in 1974. In 1995, much of fhe
steam of the boycott evaporated when the
beer maker instituted its much-friendlier
policies toward gay employees.
The company even hired Mary
Cheney, Dick Cheney's famously lesbian
daughter, to handle gay outreach.
IRONICALLY, AS FORMER CHAIR OF
the Coors Brewing Co., Pete Coors has
taken much of the credit for advancing
the company's positions on gay employees. He even claims to have gone out personally to gay bars to promote his beer
and his company's more enlightened
Pete Coors' opponent in the senate
race is making much of that history, in
an attempt to tarnish Pete Coors with the
state's much-coveted right-wing voters.
So Pete Coors is trying to live down his
past, thus embracing the Federal
Marriage Amendment with such gusto.
So on the one hand we have the Coors
Brewing Co. chatting up gays and
extolling the virtues of its corporate policies toward us. Hey, that Pete Coors guy,
he can do whatever he wants as a private
citizen, the company seems to be saying:
you have to evaluate us independently, on
our own policies.
On the other hand, you have Pete
Coors, courting conservative voters, saying he doesn't want homos to get married. And all that stuff about the Coors
Brewing Co. being gay-friendly? Well,
he's his own candidate, he seems to be
saying to the right-wingers. You can't
judge me based on a company policy. I'm
an independent entity
The doubletalk by both Pete Coors and
the Coors Brewing Co. on this issue
would make even old-time Soviet Politburo members proud.
Before you buy another Coors beer,
you may want to ask yourself: Which side
of his mouth would Pete Coors drink this
editor of the Express
Gay News, a paper affiliated
with this publication, and
can be readied at