Wal-Mart has confirmed to WorldNetDaily that it has joined a “gay” chamber of commerce, but describes it as just another routine business outreach and says other major corporations are doing the same types of things.

However, conservatives and Christians see it differently, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., already has launched a citizens protest of the move.

“It is correct that we have a dialogue with the (National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce),” Wal-Mart spokesman Bob McAdam told WND. “This is just what businesses do.”

He said it is an effort by the company to reach out to one of its customer bases, and is being handled similarly to Wal-Mart’s work with Hispanic and African-American chambers of commerce.

A report on an advertising industry site, AdAge, said that Wal-Mart had not only joined the NGLCC but also has hired a “gay-marketing” shop and started discussions about extending domestic-partner benefits to employees.

McAdam told WND it was just another advertising agreement, but not more than that.

In the AdAge report, Justin Nelson of the NGLCC said the company was just being “pragmatic.”

“They have been viewed with some degree of skepticism by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, and it’s important for them in terms of gaining market share to change that,” he told AdAge.

Perkins told supporters that the “heat” from the “radical left” apparently is influencing the company’s corporate decisions, and he wants constituents to let Wal-Mart know of their displeasure.

“While the NGLCC professes to promote the ‘interests of the LGBT business community,’ this is not all they have done,” Perkins said. “Recently, they described efforts to defend traditional marriage as an attempt to ‘write discrimination into the Constitution …’ The NGLCC also advocated attaching a pro-homosexual ‘hate crimes’ amendment to legislation intended to protect children from violent sex offenders.”

“It is unfortunate,” Perkins said, “that Wal-Mart has joined forces with an organization whose mission opposes many of the values shared by rural and small-town America. It is precisely the interests of average Americans that Wal-Mart has prided itself in promoting.

“Now, by surrendering to the radical homosexual lobby, Wal-Mart has entered the political arena with no economic benefit to their company or their customers,” he said.

He said it never is too late for conservatives and Christians to express their disappointment to Wal-Mart.

The AdAge report said the moves come as Wal-Mart continues to try to attract both upscale and urban markets. The report also said in 2003, Wal-Mart added sexual orientation to its workplace nondiscrimination policies.

The AdAge report said Wal-Mart had hired Witeck-Combs Communications, which is known for its campaigns targeting “gay” consumers.

As part of Wal-Mart’s participation in the chamber, the report said, Dee Breazeale, vice president of divisional merchandising for Sam’s Club Jewelry, is joining the group’s Corporate Advisory Council and Wal-Mart will sponsor two of the group’s annual conferences.

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