Bud Light maker stripped of LGBTQ+ rating for caving to Dylan Mulvaney backlash

The nation’s biggest LGBTQ advocacy organization is taking action against Anheuser-Busch, accusing the multinational beer company of succumbing to political pressure in its response to the conservative backlash surrounding transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

The Human Rights Campaign exclusively shared a letter with USA TODAY on May 9, informing that Light Bud, the maker of a tool that scores companies on their policies for queer, transgender, bisexual, gay, and lesbian employees, has suspended its Corporate Equality Index.

Companies that receive a score of 100 on the four criteria index will receive the approval seal from the Human Rights Campaign for their work in creating the best workplaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. These companies are responsible for promoting an inclusive culture both inside and outside the workplace, offering inclusive benefits, and providing protections against workplace discrimination.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the organization mentioned in the letter informed Anheuser-Busch that it will contemplate reducing its rating if there is no response within 90 days. Anheuser-Busch had a perfect score of 100.

In a message, the corporation stated, “Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) aim to provide a secure environment for individuals who associate themselves with a specific community and those who desire to be advocates.” Anheuser-Busch did not provide any comments regarding the letter from the Human Rights Campaign, but mentioned the existence of an employee resource group that offers support to LGBTQIA+ staff members.

The March Madness competition on Instagram caused trouble when Mulvaney posted a video promoting Bud Light. In the video, Mulvaney featured a photo of a promotional Bud Light tallboy.

Kid Rock, armed with a firearm, unveiled a video in which he obliterated crates of Bud Light, urging for a boycott of the beverage. This sparked a wave of disapproval from conservative individuals on the political spectrum.

Bottles of Bud Light beer are seen at a grocery store in Glenview, Ill., Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

Anheuser-Busch, in a statement from its CEO Brendan Whitworth, placed two of its executives on leave as sales declined, stating, “Our goal has always been to unite individuals through the enjoyment of beer, not to contribute to conversations that create division.”

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Whitworth’s remark triggered a strong negative reaction from the LGBTQ community and its supporters.

Eric Bloem, the senior director of HRC’s corporate advocacy and programs, stated that Anheuser-Busch is backtracking on its support for the LGBTQ community by sending a message of hate-filled and anti-trans rhetoric, which does not align with its espoused values of inclusion, equity, and diversity for customers, shareholders, and employees.

Mulvaney, who targeted anti-trans abuse on Instagram, posted about the experience: “I am really struggling with what I need to dehumanize and be cruel to, but I think it’s okay to feel confused and frustrated with someone.”

Bloem stated, “Anheuser-Busch had a key moment to really stand up and demonstrate the importance of their values of inclusion and equity, and diversity.”

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Bloem stated that Anheuser-Busch has not responded to inquiries from the Human Rights Campaign. He hopes that the ultimatum from the Human Rights Campaign will initiate a conversation.

Netflix’s Corporate Equality Index, a measure of a company’s commitment to LGBTQ+ rights, has suspended Campaign for Human Rights’ score in connection with Dave Chappelle’s transphobic remarks in his 2021 stand-up special, “The Closer.” This is the first time the company’s score has been suspended by the campaign.

Tik Tok star Dylan Mulvaney arrives for the premiere of "Reboot" at the Fox Studio Lot in Los Angeles, California, on September 19, 2022.

The Bud Light situation arises at a crucial time for LGBTQ rights.

Republican legislators across various statehouses in the nation have proposed numerous bills that specifically aim at the LGBTQ community, with a particular focus on transgender individuals. These bills aim to control which restrooms they are allowed to use, the type of medical treatment they can access, and the sports teams they can participate in.

Prominent figures like Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, are engaging in clashes with Disney over the state’s law that limits instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in public classrooms, sparking criticism and setting the stage for social debates in which corporations are increasingly involved.

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In general, companies are paying attention to their employees and customers − and for valid reasons, Bloem states.

Bloem stated that it is imperative for companies to acknowledge and embrace a potent consumer demographic that advocates for LGBTQ rights, as well as the substantial population of individuals in the United States who identify as LGBTQ, particularly among the younger generations, which is an unparalleled figure.

He stated, “This is not the initial occasion a business has been challenged for endorsing the LGBTQ+ community. What remains accurate is that businesses that do advocate for the community in significant manners and genuinely adhere to their principles of support succeed.” “As we examine those burdens on businesses, it all boils down to comprehending that the LGBTQ+ community is an integral component of the structure of our society.”