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Facebook Donated $10K to Anti-Gay Utah AG Candidate Sean Reyes

Sean ReyesFacebook has come under fire after it was revealed that the social media giant donated $10,000 to the re-election campaign of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage equality.

QSaltLake first reported the eyebrow-raising contribution, which occurred on May 13 during a heated battle between LGBT and civil rights advocates and progressive lawmakers on one side and conservative legislators, religious leaders and anti-gay activists on the other.

Elated LGBT couples rushed to obtain marriage licenses in Utah after US District Judge Robert J. Shelby ordered officials to stop enforcing a state law banning same-sex unions late last December.

“Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law,” wrote Shelby in his ruling.

“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” he added.

Voters in Utah, a deeply conservative state dominated by the Mormon church, approved a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and banning the performance and recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions. The measure was approved by two-thirds of the state’s voters.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has appealed Shelby’s ruling to the United States Supreme Court, explaining he had a “responsibility… to defend the state constitution and its amendments as Utah citizens have enacted them.”

On May 13, Facebook donated $10,000 to Reyes’ campaign. When asked why Facebook would support an anti-gay candidate, the Menlo Park, California-based company told QSaltLake that Reyes has “worked on Internet safety and patent reform.”

A Facebook spokesperson emailed QSaltLake with this explanation:

“Facebook has a strong record on LGBT issues and that will not change, but we make decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one. A contribution to a candidate does not mean that we agree with every policy or position that candidate takes. We made this donation for the same reason we’ve donated to Attorneys General on the opposite side of this issue — because they are committed to fostering innovation and an open Internet.”

According to Facebook’s diversity page, the firm “values the impact that every individual can have.”

“We are dedicated to creating an environment where people can be their authentic selves and share their diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and ideas.”

QSaltLake assistant editor Bob Henline has launched a Change.org petition asking Facebook to withdraw its support for Reyes. The petition asks the social media giant to “publicly decry this bigotry and make an equal or greater contribution to the campaign of Charles Stormont, who is also seeking the office of Utah Attorney General.”

“I’m an activist within the community, and Sean Reyes has drawn my distaste for his comments about the LGBT community,” Henline told the Huffington Post. “So I wanted to see who was funding his campaign, and when I looked through the disclosures, I discovered that Facebook was his second-largest contributor. Being a Facebook user, I have always assumed that it was pro-equality and pro-diversity, so it shocked me.”

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