Will Delta End Support for LGBT Civil Rights In the Name of Ending Discounts for ‘Divisive’ Groups?

Regular readers know that I’m thrilled by the support travel companies have given to same sex marriage. Travel providers do tend to be more socially liberally than the countries in which they’re based. That’s true all over the world, they bring people into contact with other cultures and bring foreign experiences home.

Delta has been a sponsor of the Seattle and New York Pride parades and has demanded exclusivity so that other airlines couldn’t be sponsors too. In fact Alaska Airlines employees couldn’t march in uniform in Seattle. In other words, they could not attend as Alaska employees, they had to hide one part of who they are if they wanted to join the march. Ironic.

Delta includes LGBT organizations in their group discount program.

In the aftermath of their experience ending a discount relationship with the NRA, walking back the symbolism of the move and taking heat from Georgia politicians over the decision they’ve said they are now considering ending discounts for all politically divisive groups. They don’t want to appear to be singling out guns. They also don’t want to get questions on issue after issue, having to answer for every group with which they do business.

We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.

But that’s not as simple as it sounds. They have to make a decision as to what constitutes politically divisive. While a majority now support same sex marriage, it’s an issue which is very culturally divisive. Perhaps they’ll argue that by definition the movement is inclusive, or that the Supreme Court settled the issue, so continued support for LGBT civil rights isn’t divisive. That’s exactly the sort of judgment they’ll still have to make.

The alternative to this mess of course would be to take a stand for their beliefs, instead of merely saying that their values ‘aren’t for sale’ but saying they won’t do business with groups that are consistent with the company’s values if those groups are ‘divisive’.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. People who fly on airplanes tend to be wealthier and better educated than the average American. That’s just a fact. So it makes sense that the policies and stances of airlines would mirror those of their customers.

  2. Jimmy, have you been on a plane in the last 40 years? Airplanes are basically buses with wings since deregulation. The clientale are the same.

  3. @James

    I disagree. Comparing Delta and say Spirit, the passenger make up is very different.

  4. Very extraordinary to compare the slaughtering of innocent people coupled with the NRA’s stance on this subject, to being gay. Surely your comparison is picking up the wrong criteria.

  5. LGBT is such a perversion I truly hope they would ban anything to do with the movement.
    Truth is, everyone has a belief or a bias, truth is you can’t separate church and state.
    Choose this day whom you will serve, Jesus Christ or the anti-Christ, the only two options.
    You can love people while telling them the truth, true love cannot accept evil.

  6. Gay rights is human rights and if Delta drops support of gay rights we can watch them go bankrupt. However I don’t know why you think this is on the table Gary. The people at Delta made the correct decision about the NRA which has blood on it’s hands while the gay rights movement is the same as other civil rights movements. According to your logic woud they be considering ending discounts to the NAACP or the Sierra club because Trump’s constituents dislike Black people and want to destroy the environment?

  7. Not only have you missed the forest for the trees, you’re stuck down in the brambles. The issue in question here is whether $40 to $50 million in subsidies has any meaningful economic impact for a company the size of Delta. When a 1 cent increase in the price of Jet-A costs an airline like Delta $100 million every day, I argue it doesn’t. So why would a government put an essentially meaningless subsidy on the table only to take it off? Strawman. If any side of this polemic was serious, it would start with Georgia offering Delta a real, meaningful subsidy, or threatening genuine financial pain. But no one should be taking Ed Bastian’s remarks about ending relationships with devisive groups as serious as you are here when this whole polemic rests on a charade.

  8. Im sorry but your argument is flawed. Simply put i would say there are probably just as many supporters of the NRA or the 2nd Amendment which the NRA’s goal is to support, as there are to LGBQ supporters whoes goal is equality. Many people are supporters of both. (I know am). Both have detractors and political supporters. Once Delta claims that in the name of “x” they are doing “y” to avoid enmeshing themselves in politics, they automatically need to diassociate themselves from every group that is political.

  9. Here’s a novel idea: How about just focusing on running a good airline and delivering exceptional customer service. Leave the politics and cultural statements to politicians and activists

  10. “Perhaps they’ll argue that by definition the movement is inclusive, or that the Supreme Court settled the issue, so continued support for LGBT civil rights isn’t divisive”

    Heller ruled that the Second Amendment preserves and individual right to buy, own, and use guns. If “the Supreme Court settled the issue”, then support for the NRA isn’t “divisive”.

    The Second Amendment says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” (Please, people, don’t show off your ignorance by babbling about “the militia”! Every single able bodied US non-felon adult is a member of the “unorganized militia.” If you want to argue that people should be forming themselves into “militia companies”, and going out to public parks with their guns and practicing and drilling (that means shooting them), and that no City, Country, State, or the Federal Gov’t may stop them (Hello Central Park! Hello Yosemite!), have fun.)

    You can not “support the Second Amendment”, and oppose the NRA, because the NRA basically does two things:
    1: Provides people with training on the safe use of firearms
    2: Fights to keep people’s “right to keep and bear arms” from being “infringed”.

    You can believe the right SHOULD be infringed, but at that point you are no longer “a supporter of the Second Amendment.”

    So, I’d prefer to see Delta walk back their attack on the NRA, and on the NRA’s members. But if we can’t have that, watching left-wings groups get screwed over in the carnage would be welcome entertainment

  11. >Very extraordinary to compare the slaughtering of innocent people coupled with the NRA’s stance on this subject, to being gay.

    Delta isn’t conflating the two, you are. They are wisely saying, or pretending to say, that business should not get bogged down in politics, be it about gun rights or identity politics.

  12. Gary, you’re so off base….as usual though. To compare gay rights with gun rights is asinine. However, I expect nothing more from you.

  13. Agree. We are totally missing the forrest for the trees. We are talking about ending discounts for special interest groups- not violating their rights. I don’t get any discount except I could sign up for AARP for the BA trans-Atlantic deal. My trans daughter suffers much greater insults on a daily basis. She has never felt that her basic rights as a human being have been violated on an airplane but feels it daily on the streets of liberal Berkeley. I doubt any NRA member will suffer an injustice unless they try to shove their politics down my throat while I am enjoying my travel. It just goes to show what a charged issue this is- that people insert their concerns on top of the actual news.

  14. Here’s some math, children:

    Gays are about 3% of the US population. That’s about 9 million people. Let’s round up,. and call it 10.

    There’s 140 million+ gun owners in America. If we’re talking “human rights”, then the right of those 140 million people to protect their lives is at LEAST as important as the “right” of those 10 million to get married.

    If you’re pro human rights, you’re not anti-gun, and you’re not anti-NRA.

    Those kids are dead because the Obama Education Department worked with the Broward schools and police / sheriffs to make sure that “Students” who committed crimes were not punished for doing so.

    The killer would never have been able to buy a gun, if the people now calling the NRA “murderers” hadn’t give the killer pass after pass, until he finally killed 17 people.

    Then there’s the incompetence of the FBI, and the cowards of the Broward Sheriff’s Department, who hung around outside while people were murdered inside.

    Scream about the NRA all you want. We know who’s actually at fault, and it’s not them

  15. I’ll echo what others say: comparing LGBT rights and the NRA is just gross. LGBT rights are “culturally divisive” but we are talking about people who have not chosen to be LGBT and who should have the same rights as just anyone else. People who buy guns and have a NRA membership make a conscious decision to do that and make a conscious decision on something “politically divisive”. You are comparing support of basic human rights with rights of owning guns. As an LGBT individual I find this article incredibly insulting.

  16. I agree that Delta should drop their discount for LGBT. The law says that they should not be discriminated against, but that’s different than giving them preferential benefits. Is Delta going to give discounts to religious or ethnic minorities also? Why not offer discounts to African Americans, for example? Seems like supporting LGBT is not just politically correct, but downright fashionable.

    Let Delta can all of their discounts for the right (NRA) and left (LGBT) wingers.

  17. @Steven the hateful bigot homophobe: “LGBT is such a perversion.” Jesus H. Christ. The only perversion is a Neanderthal like you throwing a hate against an entire group of people. And by the way, can you point out to me where Jesus himself called LGBT people “perverts.” While (as a Jew) I don’t profess to be an expert on Jesus, my understanding is that his teachings were of love and tolerance, and not the hate that you spewed.

  18. @Greg (no, not that Greg) – I did not delete your comments. They went into the queue to be manually approved. I was out at brunch, got back and published them.

  19. @K — I support LGBT rights. However Delta says they are considering not offering discounts to any group event that’s controversial. The comments here demonstrate that includes these events (unfortunately).

    I’m not the one moving from Delta’s stance on NRA to far broader and different issues. That’s Delta’s statement.

  20. This is what’s called “buying trouble.” You have absolutely no foundation for this supposition, other than the pursuit of clicks. I think you’re way off base here getting people riled up.
    That being said, not sure why anyone would get a discount based on their love life. That doesn’t seem fair.

  21. @Karen – that’s 100% wrong. My basis is Delta’s published statements. They used to give group event discounts to NRA events. The still give them to LGBT events. They say they are considering no longer offering discounts to anything ‘controversial’. I’m pointing out what that would mean.

  22. Just as an aside….. If I run a business, and choose to not give a special discount to gay groups, but instead treat them like all other customers. Does that really make me Anti-Gay?

    The mistake Delta made was picking and choosing. LGBT groups are generally considered Left-Wing groups, while the NRA is generally considered a right wing one. (Despite the fact that I personally know a gay person who’s an NRA member) With politics being so tribal nowadays, you can’t single out one side, and not the other. At least without facing consequences in terms of lost business. In Delta’s case, they already lost 50 Million in subsidies, (As a Liberatian, Good on that. Shouldn’t have been given in the first place) and I already know some NRA members who fly for work, and have already opted to not choose Delta. Enough to make a dent in their bottom line? (shrug) Time will tell.

    Corporations should simply stay out of politics. Especially these days. Delta really has no good options here. Either Flip-Flop on the NRA stance, keep it and lose business and of course subsidies at their major hub, or simply remove ALL discounts from any group. Which I’m sure will anger some.

    Such is the price one pays for virtue signaling and grandstanding.

  23. My guess is that Delta wants to end all discounts PERIOD.

    I think that if the Georgian Republican led government has a problem with Delta, Delta should start looking for a new headquarters. Cuomo in NY said to call him. My guess is that the governor of Minnesota would also speak to them. Now I doubt it makes business sense to move unless their offer were really great. Certainly the Georgian employees of Delta should remember this at the polls when they go to decide the fate of the republican politicians.

    Now of course, Delta’s (and United’s for that matter) moves with regards to the ending NRA discounts and for the LGBT community make me more likely to fly them.

  24. Gary, I absolutely love the argument. I believe those who attack you miss the point you make very eloquently.
    As for my self I am forming a group for Gay Gun Owners Who Make Confederate Statues that Occupy Wall Street and Kneel During the National Anthem. Where is my airline discount?

  25. Within any discussion of the NRA, talk immediately diverts to “second amendment rights.”

    At the time of the enactment of the second amendment there were no automatic weapons and there were no automobiles.

    I fail to understand why post-2nd amendment weapons should not be regulated at least as tightly as automobiles, trucks, vans, motorcycles and bicycles.

    People must qualify to drive, although there are certainly no strict qualifications (or enforcement.)
    Second, drivers must carry X amount of insurance. Gun-owners none as far as I know. Motorized vehicles must be registered with considerable personal data provided with licenses renewed every one or two years, usually with pollution reviews.

    The thought that local idiot drivers are also 80% of the time local idiot gun-owners is terrifying.

  26. A couple comments
    #1 @Luke Vader “The law says that they should not be discriminated against, ”
    Umm no! There is no Federal law that protects people who are LGBT from discrimination, discrimination in housing, employment, even accommodations like restaurants, hotels and B & B’. Nothing. Now some States have passed laws but last I looked 23, yes count them, 23 States do not protect in law people who are LGBT from discrimination. There is a case before the Supreme Court right now, Colorado Masterpiece Cake shop who refused to bake one of their standard model wedding cakes for 2 gay men so we will have to see what the court rules.

    #2 @Steven, no separation from Church & State is what you promote? Well go back to Russia you Checkist! Russia is where the State imposes in law, the beliefs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    #3 It is very important for people who are LGBT to be publicly supported by businesses. Business public support helped them rise out of the shadows and become visible and accepted as EQUAL citizens and members of our great society. I never knew, and I am very impressed, that Gary is a supporter of the civil rights of people who are LGBT. Let’s hope Delta really means it when they say that their values are not for sale.

  27. Companies are getting too caught up in political and cultural posturing. They forget about running a good business and serving the customer. ALL customers. I’m sick and tired of the NRA, LBTQTQBT (or whatever the acronym is), Blue state, red state, tolerance, left/right, ad nauseam. Just run the business for chrissakes.

  28. Hello Neal Z,

    Your argument is with God, not me.

    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

    If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)

  29. Fascinating discourse on this issue. Sad that this country has become so fragmented. And lest we forget, Delta pulled their support of the Public Theater in NY last year over the production of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare in the Park.
    And as someone who has flown for over 50 years, while I can’t that I have traveled on a bus in a very, very long time, I can attest to the people who are flying today, and can’t say that they’re wealthier or better educated – rather than a bus, I’d call flying today the cattle car of the air, both at the airport(s) and on the plane(s).

  30. Hi Steven, Hi Neal,
    I’m curious: do you support the death penalty?
    Do you support the death penalty in the case of a single instance of male/male sex?
    Do you support the death penalty in the case of a single instance of male/male sex within a legally-sanctioned marriage?
    Do you support the death penalty in the case of (only) multiple cases of male/male sex within a legally-sanctioned marriage?
    Do you support the death penalty in the case of a single instance of female/female sex?
    Ditto all questions above (male/male version) in the case of female/female sex, e.g. legally sanctioned lesbian marriage?
    Do you support a complete and total return to Old Testament law? Is the god of the Old Testament the god with which others supposedly have an argument?
    Oy veh.

  31. What has really caught my attention is how this has devolved over the past week.

    Let’s start at the beginning. The Georgia LT. Governor, who I assume is running for Governor, made his comments that Delta’s decision does not recognize Georgia’s political conservatism. Although I do not own a gun, nor am I a member of the NRA, it is my understanding that many liberals and independents also own guns.

    Now, fast forward to many of the above posts. In keeping with today’s partisan environment, many of the posts head to conservative vs. liberal posturing.

    As Delta flies to most everywhere in the U.S. and the world, I see no reason to believe that Delta owes any allegiance to the State of Georgia. I would think Georgia owes much to Delta. There is nothing sacred about basing Delta’s worldwide HQ in Georgia. The LT. Governor is pandering to his base.

  32. Hello Cassandra,

    Regarding the death penalty for homosexual sins I believe what the bible says: it is an abomination, a perversion of Gods plan. While all sin leads to death we should leave the final judgment to God as he extends grace and gives opportunity in this life for all to repent, as we all fall short of perfection.
    If religion doesn’t convince anyone then I hope science would prove how unhealthy it is to promote a lifestyle with a suicide and disease rate many times that of heterosexual relationships.
    This is not something an airline should be promoting.

  33. Cassandra, I’m so sorry the US education system failed you. Driving is a privilege not a right. It’s amazing how many Americans do not understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The government can not take these rights away because the government does not grant these rights in the first place. The founding fathers wrote the Constitution to give the government specific powers. The Bill of Rights specifies birth rights the government can not take away from the people.

    Using the argument that the founding fathers could not imagine assault rifles is a very dangerous argument. I’m 100% certain the founding fathers never imagined the internet and social media when they wrote “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;”

    With Russia meddling in the US election process using Facebook and other social media platforms, I could see Congress writing laws that would limit free speech on the social media using the argument that the founding fathers did not imagine the internet and it potential consequences to our election process. They could write a law not to allow any political posts on social media 90 days prior to an election. I’m sure Trump would love to come up with an argument to limit the free press. I doubt the founding fathers ever imagined a 24/7 news cycle.

    To treat one amendment less important than another is a very slippery slope. To pass laws that violate an amendment will eventually lead to the end of the Republic.

  34. I think that the divisive comments on this blog post show Gary is correct that this is a political and moral lightning rod issue. To me any corporation is foolish to attempt to be PC. They can’t make everyone happy so why even get in the mix. You can be mad at me that I support or not support the NRA or LGBT issues but why would I even state my position if I was trying to sell you something. For example say you post a car for sale on Craigslist and state in the ad that you are selling a 1999 Chevy and that you support LGBT rights. It’s your right to do so but you will offend some of your potential buyers. Why even state a position one way or the other. In addition you offend a segment of your own employees and investors by doing so as well. According to some comments on this post I guess you could add that Chevy buyers or Craigslist users are typically better educated and have more money or whatever. It’s just a can of worms.

  35. For my two cents @Steven – I’m curious upon what you base your statement that a suicide and disease rate [is] many times that of heterosexual relationships. And if in fact the first of these contentions is in fact true, perhaps that is because of persecution by people such as you.

  36. Oh, no! Does this mean I might lose my Antichrist discount? Satanic convention? Swingers meet-up? How about my Owners of Cloned Dogs discount?

  37. This was always the dividing line issue. They rebuilt the GOP using talk radio to rally tens of millions of fat bigots hugely on the Gays in the Military issue, where it was never an issue but became one as innocent young sailors, soldiers and airmen who only wanted to serve their country were beaten to death in their bunks by radio-activated vigilantes. Then when they stunk up things so bad the majority rose up and decided to stamp the gay rights issue decided. What happened next is that this reactionary redneck 1/3 primed by Faux News and talk radio decided that if their bright line issue was so decidedly crossed, they were going to just blow things up. So they elected the crop of legislators you see now who are only interested in tearing down government, arming up their Bubba army, and standing in the school house door for any further immigration or other tolerance of any kind.

    We know that they can’t wing, but just read the comments here from those who are flying amongst you to see what hideous deranged bigots there are out there stewing in their vile racism, Mad Men sexism, sick homophobia (even though no one of any sex would ever look at them twice) completely driven insane by being the ones branded bigots when they were always told by their other fat white friends they are “normal.”

    So they have made the decision since they can’t live in 1950’s America any longer they are going to blow it up. A new terrorist attack every week for 25 years by US white nationalist right wingers (not a single one by the left since Vietnam) as documented by SPLC, and now electing a deranged President who perfectly personifies who these people are. Now we see if there are enough sane people left to save the USA. Most of our allies are doubtful, teaching in their schools now in the UK, Spain, Australia and Japan the lesson to their kids about how ignorance and intolerance can ruin a great nation by using us as the example.

  38. Steven,
    It is sad that what you quote and support is apparently a total condemnation and, I believe you would say, god’s word.
    You have NOT promoted the concept (until now) of
    1: god’s grace
    2. opportunity for repentance
    3. that the final judgment should be left until the end, in god’s hand.
    According to Jimmy Carter, other evangelicals, and evangelical scholars, Jesus Christ “promoted” (your word about Delta) NO attitude or approach about, much less condemnation of, homosexuality. The current pope said about the subject: “who am I to judge?”
    Women in India have a much higher disease rate and suicide rate than persons in heterosexual relationships in the US. Straight black men have a higher disease rate and suicide rate than white heterosexual males.
    What troubles me most is that religionists select — so crudely — their perceptions, their science and their condemnation.
    And no, you don’t believe what the Bible says, you believe what the Old Testament says and what you choose to select out.
    Whatever you do, Steven, you might want to try harder, study more, be more scrupulous and not use “god,” willynilly, to justify hate. I’m not even suggesting that you consider god’s grace, opportunity for repentance, and god’s final judgements. I am suggesting you do your part far better than you are now.

  39. Hello Elliott,

    The Center for Disease Control reports that the 2% homosexual population in the US accounts for 70% of all HIV infections, as well as much higher suicide rates.
    I don’t persecute homosexuals, on the contrary, try believing the Bible in the corporate world, as a teacher, as a doctor or psychologist and you will find out what persecution is.
    As you can see, airlines, banks and the schools all promote and praise LGBT.

  40. Hello Cassandra,

    Promoting homosexuality is not grace, it is evil. Gods grace, is that he didn’t stone the woman caught in adultery. The woman obviously knew it was wrong. Contrast that to today where it’s considered hate speech and judgment if you aren’t promoting homosexuality. That compares to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, just before their destruction.

  41. Just because you don’t affirm a gay person’s lifestyle doesn’t mean you hate them, in fact it’s mostly opposite. If homosexual actions are sinful (and they are, no serious theologian would claim otherwise because of the weight of scriptural and ecclesiastical evidence), and sin leads to spiritual death and Hell, then it is a moral imperative for Christians to warn those engaged in active homosexual lifestyles of the danger they’re in. It’s an act of mercy. I don’t oppose the gay lobby because I hate gays, far from it. I want them to spend eternity in heaven, and there’s no more love to show someone than wanting that for them in spite of society thinking you’re a bigot.

    That being said, I think Delta should stop playing favorites with political lobby groups in general and just concentrate on flying passengers without making them feel hated for supporting the “wrong” causes.

  42. Who said anything about promoting?

    How about NOT abusing, NOT imposing beliefs, NOT proselytizing, NOT intruding, NOT condemning, NOT crusading, NOT moralizing? Steven, you are the religionist, look to your own beliefs and behaviors. Hint: consider your own state of grace and do not judge others.

    How about also considering, loving, being circumspect, how about thinking, studying, mentally turning the other cheek, walking a mile in another man’s shoes, and not pre-conceiving? You might also consider NOT distorting facts, figures, information and THINKING in terms other than 2000+ years ago.

    Steven, there is little wonder that you have ostracized yourself from a corporate world which might usually welcome a less histrionic, absolutist and condemnatory believer.

    For all its short-comings, the corporate world DOES usually recognize its own need for thinking beyond the rigid, dogmatic, rote, and historical.

    OK, like the corporate world, I’m done with you. Even with religionists, dealing with a rational mind is more rewarding.

  43. Keep in mind that this issue was decided by the vast majority of the world and now the American population, but for the US’ lunatic confederate 500 pound redneck hicks. You can read here the moron’s trying to teach educated sane people about how they must comply with their twisted religion – so perverted by them that just in our lifetime they destoyed permanently the good name of Christianity with their filthy bigotry. No young person will even consider it. This is who these people are. Believe them. With less than a third of the US population they are close to finishing us off as a modern nation, possibly with a nuclear bang they gladly welcome in their death cult version of religion. In all modern nations these sick twisted freaks are regarded as a greater threat that any other religious terrorists. Are you going to let them win, America? Your move.

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