Those of us who have been involved in political organizing around LGBT issues have known for many years that Columbus-based business Cummins, which manufactures truck engines, is a vocal supporter of LGBT rights and its own LGBT employees. The Fortune 500 company has testified in the Indiana State Legislature on the importance to the business community of recognizing diversity and making Indiana a welcoming place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, so that a vibrant and diverse workforce can support Indiana businesses. They have a robust program for recognizing LGBT diversity in their workplace and have employees who do outreach work to other businesses to talk about workplace inclusion.
So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Cummins would object to its logo being used to promote an anti-gay auto repair shop in Michigan. The owner of small repair shop Dieseltec made several public statements, first via his businesses’ Facebook page and later to local media, stating that he would refuse service to openly gay customers.
According to M-Live: Fortune 500 company distances itself from anti-gay repair shop owner’s rant :
GRANDVILLE, MI — A Fortune 500 company that fought Indiana’s religious freedom law is telling a Grandville auto shop owner his business must stop using its logo following the Michigan man’s anti-gay Facebook post.
Engine manufacturer Cummins said on social media Thursday that it is in the process of notifying Dieseltec to stop using its logo on the repair shop’s website.
Dieseltec owner Brian Klawiter announced this week via a Facebook post on the business’ page that he wouldn’t hesitate to deny service to openly gay people. Among other things – like dishonesty and thievery – he said open displays of homosexuality are not welcome. He strives to run his business with Christian values and “homosexuality is wrong,” he said.
Klawiter started the Facebook post by saying conservative Americans have their rights “squashed” every day and he’ll operate his business the way he sees fit.
The post set off a social media firestorm. Some curious Facebook and Twitters users reached out to Cummins, with headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, for reaction about the corporation’s logo displayed on Dieseltec’s website.
“At Cummins, diversity is a core value. We are not affiliated with this business and are notifying them to stop using our logo,” Cummins said in a reply to a Tweet on Thursday.
In regard to gay people, Klawiter’s post said: “I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.)”
A Facebook user asked Cummins if the corporation wants to be associated with “an organization where the owner threatens potential bodily harm (or a fatality) by assembling a vehicle with bolts but not nuts.”
Cummins replied again to say it is not affiliated with the business and supports diversity in the workplace and communities.
“At Cummins, diversity is a core value. We strive to ensure all individuals are treated with dignity and respect throughout the company and in the communities where we are located. Cummins understands diversity creates stronger and more competitive work environments. Additionally, welcoming and inclusive communities help attract and retain top talent.”
“Cummins has a long history of standing up for what is right, even in the face of adversity. Our leaders championed civil rights in the 1960’s, took a stand against apartheid in the 1980’s, and in 2000 began offering domestic partner benefits to our employees, despite opposition in our community. We have also opposed efforts that were against marriage equality in Indiana, Minnesota and at the federal level. And this year, we opposed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. These measures run counter to our values and undermine our ideals of respecting diversity and demanding that we treat each other with mutual respect.”
Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger was among nine CEOs who signed a letter to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence calling for changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to assure residents or visitors would not face discrimination. Cummins testified against the legislation at public hearings, according to The Indianapolis Star.
Klawiter on Thursday said he stands by his statements. He didn’t realize the Facebook post would make the rounds on the Internet. He figured only a handful of friends or regular customers would read it.
Klawiter said he’s received both death threats and messages of support. In response to a person who protested outside his business Thursday, he said, “I support the right to free speech. Have at it.”
“I can’t say I regret posting. I feel strongly about morals and belief. But the response: These people are using every tactic imaginable to absolutely destroy my business,” he said.