Taking on an $8 billion company and winning in four days

12/19/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm tired.

I've been involved in the struggle for gay equality since 1986 and I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of the conflict in what has become a civil war between fair and just people who want nothing more than equality and the religious zealots who seek to control us.

As a faithful soldier in the war, I decided to take action when I saw that a franchisee of Subway, the sandwich shop chain, donated $2,500 to Yes on 8, I knew it was time to pick up a weapon of the war and go after what the enemy (and yes, supporters of Prop 8 are my enemies) depends on most, money.

"Boycott schmoycot." I'm tired and don't have the energy to begin a traditional national boycott. All that work. All that education. I'm tired and it's enough. So, can one guy go after an international food chain with 30,000 outlets and win, quickly? In the words of Sarah Palin, "You bet'cha."

From my site,

I was reading through the Human Rights Campaign's list of companies that gave to Yes on 8, the California referendum that removed marriage equality from the state's constitution. When I saw a franchisee of an international company gave $2,500 to opponents of equality, I immediately knew I would require someone at the company's world HQ to address this. Or, I would publicly.

So, after a few discussions, I informed the company's spokesperson that they had until today to take the following three actions:

1) Repudiate the franchisee's gift
2) Make a gift in the same amount to an organization fighting for true equality
3) Immediately add sexual orientation and gender identity to the corporation's non-discrimination policy.

Their choice was simple: Address the demands or or you're pretty much allowing automatic and immediate approval of Yes on 99 (the National Boycott Subway BlogActive Referendum). was purchased...I gave them until yesterday at 3pm.

I was told that such demands with such a short deadline were too harsh. "Harsh," I'll tell you about "harsh." This is a civil war waged upon free and just people by those who seek to control them. In 1776 the punishment for such treatment was not a boycott, the objections came at the end of a bayonet. Now that was harsh. Thank goodness times have changed. Plus a bloody war requires real activity and, well, I'm tired.

Unlike McCain's so-called "surge," the surge of LGBT activism in the wake of the passage of California's Proposition 8 is actually responsible for something; masses that are ticked off gays and lesbians (and our supporters) are taking to the streets. This 'Stonewall 3.0,' as it is being dubbed (see: ACT-UP for version 2.0), coupled with the reach of the web, means we can be so exhausted that we can unleash power by a whole new means: keyboards and web connections. This is good, because I'm tired.

"It'll never work, they have 30,000 stores all over the world," one friend told me, "Way too big a company to move that quickly."

"Watch me," I replied, hoping it would be quick, because I'm tired.

In a conversation with Rogers today, Subway Director of Corporate Communications Michele DiNello responded to the three demands.


Explaining the company's position the letter continued, "You should also be aware that your franchise agreement prohibits your use of the SUBWAY trademark as part of your business or corporate name. Further, it states that you agree to '...not use the Trademark in a manner that degrades, diminishes, or detracts from the goodwill of the business associated with the Trademark' and 'to promptly change the manner of such use if requested to do so by us.'"

The franchisee, explained DiNello, has called Yes on 8 and asked for a refund of the gift.

DiNello also addressed my requirement that sexual orientation and gender identity to the company's non-discrimination policies:

"We are changing the discrimination policy language and that includes anything we add through headquarters human resources, not just in the field," said DiNello. "The company used the exact language you gave us," referring to BlogActive's request to add both 'sexual orientation and gender identity.'"

This is a textbook example of how a company should react when they realize that one of its operating units has done something wrong. What was outrageous behavior by one franchisee has resulted in a letter to owners of 30,000 stores and a corporate policy change for the better. And I didn't have to leave my desk chair; a good thing because I'm tired.

With over 30,000 outlets operating in more than 85 countries, Subway is the second largest food chain worldwide, raking second only to McDonald's. Yes, a giant corporation -- an $8 Billion a year corporation -- can be brought to the side of fairness quickly and efficiently.

We have a handle -- a handle on a spigot of money. Mess with the gays and watch the 'pink wrath' slowly twist the spigot until they're at the table begging for forgiveness. At Subway they were smart, the spigot is fully open. I like that, I didn't want to help turn it off, I'm tired.

Madeline, we miss you: