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Environmentalists for Equality

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From Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks to JC Penny, many corporate executives are weighing in on the equality debate. For example, in January, JC Penny hired Ellen DeGeneres, one of the most well-known and loved LGBT celebrities, as its spokeswoman. By sending out a Mother's Day catalogue featuring a family with two moms, JC Penny courted the ire of One Million Moms. They did it again a month later with a Father's Day ad featuring two dads. Moreover, executives such as Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft along with Bill Gates have each made personal contributions to a number of pro-gay rights organizations.

However, there is an equally important voice that's missing in the movement for equality: environmentalists.

I have long respected the fundamental tenet of the environmental movement: We can't trash the planet without trashing people first. Simply put, there are 7 billion other people on this planet, and in order to make a global difference, we have to be willing to break down the barriers that have prevented us from appreciating the differences in every human being and working together. We are going to have to find a way to live on this planet so that every person is treated with equal rights, respect and dignity. Otherwise, discussions on environmental sustainability are futile, because an acceptance of civil rights is a necessary perquisite.
Greening Forward has long embraced an inclusive community. We are proud of the community we have been able to cultivate as result of these efforts. Moreover, we purposely partner with groups that we believe are moving in the right direction. Although our purchasing procedures favor minority-owned small businesses in the communities in which we work, many of our online purchases are through Amazon, a company that has made clear through its executive leaders that it is pro-equality and environmentally sustainable. Additionally, we are proud to be supported by companies that also genuinely share our mission, such as Wells Fargo and Google.

Greening Forward is not the first environmental organization to make note of the relationship between the environmental sustainability and equality discussions. One of our allies, the Sierra Club, started a boycott this summer on the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The group's state chapter sent a letter to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina complaining about the diocese's opposition to gay marriage and stating its intention to stop patronizing Camp St. Christopher, a Seabrook Island retreat center affiliated with the diocese.

"Unfortunately we have learned that the owner of St. Christopher's... has adopted positions regarding sexual orientation which do not reflect the values of our organization," the letter states. "Given that the diocese holds views we find objectionable... we must inform you that the Sierra Club will no longer patronize St. Christopher's."

It is a pleasure to support the Sierra Club and the LGBT community in Greening Forward's operations. Likewise, we encourage other organizations of employment and with a community reach to help us create a message that its core is rooted in equality and respect for every person.

Follow Charles on Twitter at @Corgbon.