Happy Father's Day

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Happy Father's Day


By: Abigail Garner

Date: June 14, 2001

Source: National Public Radio. "Happy Fathers' Day." 〈http://damnstraight.oversampled.net/2001/06/14/happy-fathers-day/〉 (accessed June 15, 2006).

About the Author: Abigail Garner grew up in a home with homosexual parents and now writes and speaks on homosexual rights. She is the author of Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is. She is creator of the website FamiliesLikeMine.com.


As a minority, homosexuals have encountered a variety of responses throughout history. In the United States, they have been alternately ignored, mocked, attacked, and accepted. American law related to homosexuals is a complicated patchwork of prohibitions and permissions; public acceptance also varies widely. With the exception of a few strident antigay activists, most Americans ignore the reality of homosexuals living among them. In some communities homosexuality has been openly acknowledged, while in others it has remained closeted.

Despite the numerous stereotypes of gay men, many of them live in committed monogamous relationships, and a surprising number raise children. A study by the Urban Institute estimated that in 2000 approximately 250,000 children lived with one or more gay parents, although estimates from the gay community put the number much higher. Children in these families often report unique experiences as a result of living in a family that is inherently different.


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As homosexuality entered public dialog in the 1980s and 1990s, attention focused on the demographics of same-sex couples. The United States Census, while not explicitly asking respondents about their sexual orientation, did include questions useful in identifying homosexual couples. As of 2000, census data places the ratio of these households at approximately 1% of total households, or roughly 600,000 homes.

While same-sex couples make up only a small percentage of the nation's families, they exercise an inordinate amount of financial influence. Census Bureau data for 2003 put the mean income level for same-sex households at more than $72,000, compared to the national family average of less than $44,000. That same year 22% of same-sex couples earned more than $93,000, making them a particularly affluent market segment.

Despite the rich profit potential in gay and lesbian markets, American corporations have only recently begun to target this segment. In the 1990's, gay and lesbian groups began scheduling annual gatherings at Disney World; though not officially sponsoring the event, Disney Corporation encouraged and privately supported the events, earning them criticism and a decade-long boycott from the conservative American Family Association (AFA).

Ford Motors began advertising its upscale Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo vehicles in predominantly gay publications in 2005, but ended two of the three campaigns following an AFA petition drive. Gay activists criticized the decision, but Ford said that its marketing decisions were based on economics rather than social policy.

Microsoft, located in socially progressive Washington state, has long prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in hiring and offers company benefits to domestic partners. In 2001 a California-based gay advocacy group recognized the company for its support of gay and lesbian rights within the company and in the community. In 2005 Washington state lawmakers considered a bill that would outlaw sexual-orientation discrimination in housing and employment, and Microsoft announced its corporate support for the bill.

In the weeks following the announcement, however, Microsoft officials received a barrage of criticism. In April company President Steve Ballmer announced a change in their position, citing division among the firm's employees. The legislation failed to pass, earning Microsoft the ire of gay rights groups.

Despite the potential pitfalls, American companies are expected to seek inroads into the affluent gay marketplace due to its sheer size: A 2002 estimate put spending by gay and lesbian parents at $22 billion. With such enormous sums at stake, products targeted specifically at the homosexual community are likely to proliferate. American companies have a long and successful history of targeting new customer groups while deftly retaining existing buyers.



Lukebill, Grant. Untold Millions: Secret Truths about Marketing to Gay and Lesbian Consumers. San Francisco, California: Harrington Park Press, 1999.

Schulman, Sarah. Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.

Wardlow, Daniel L., ed. Gays, Lesbians, and Consumer Behavior: Theory, Practice, and Research Issues in Marketing. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, 1996.


Kiley, David. "Ford vs. the Religious Right, Round 2." BusinessWeek. (March 15, 2006):14.

van der Pool, Lisa. "PR Industry Divided on How to Reach Gays." Brandweek. 44 (2004): 6.

Yamey, Gavin. "Gay Tobacco Ads Come out of the Closet." British Medical Journal. 327 (August 2, 2003): 296.

Web sites

American Public Media. "Gay Marketing: Stranger to the Closet." June 7, 2005 〈http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2005/06/07/PM200506071.html〉 (accessed June 15, 2006).

Fox News. "Fortune 500 Companies See Money in Gay Families." May 26, 2004 〈http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,120902,00.html〉 (accessed June 15, 2006).

Washington Post. "Microsoft Draws Fire for Shift on Gay Rights Bill." April 26, 2005 〈http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/04/25/AR2005042501266.html〉 (accessed June 15, 2006).