UPDATED: Coachella Parent Company’s Owner Calls Anti-LGBTQ Reports ‘Garbage’
Coachella has risen to the ranks of music's biggest festivals by attracting a socially diverse array of performers and attendees — but according to a new report, the owner of the event's parent company, AEG Worldwide, is one of the country's biggest donors to groups working to debunk climate change science and undermine LGBT issues.
AEG owner Philip Anschutz is among a roster of deep-pocketed contributors to socially conservative causes listed in the Washington Post, which stems from research undertaken by Freedom for All Americans, a self-described “bipartisan campaign seeking nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide." Tracking "more than 200 anti-LGBT bills pending in 34 states," the group has identified a coordinated effort to push back against recent legislation enforcing equal rights and curb climate change.
For those familiar with Anschutz's politics, the news is more disappointing than surprising. "Phil Anschutz’s extensive influence in Colorado politics has been known for years, but the degree of his support for anti-LGBTQ groups that fund extremist hate groups ... is shocking," ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii said in a statement. “At a time in American history when discrimination and violence against LGBTQ citizens is on the rise, support for pro-discrimination groups puts Anschutz on the wrong side of Colorado, and on the wrong side of history."
Social media is already abuzz with reactions to the report, which seems likely to result in public pressure on artists confirmed for this year's event — a list of progressive-friendly performers that includes Beyonce, Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar.
UPDATE: Rolling Stone published a statement from Anschutz in which he denied the accusations. "Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage," he wrote. "I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form."
“Both the Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes," he continued. "Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of the Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups."
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