Thursday, June 16, 2016

DeVos offer of aid to Orlando victims at odds with family's anti-LGBT stance

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 10:44 AM

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Two days ago, the Michigan-based DeVos family pledged $400,000 to  a nonprofit created to help families impacted by the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The family, which owns direct-sales company Amway and the Orlando Magic, folded in another $100,000 from the basketball team into the donation, making it a cool $500,000.

Now, before you light a candle in your window for the DeVos family, consider that the $400,000 donation pales in comparison to the almost $2 million the family has devoted to causes and organization hostile to the rights of the LGBT community. In fact, they've been such a stalwart supporter of right-wing causes that activists called for a global boycott of his company in 2012. As Dave Zirin, the sports editor for The Nation pointed out on Twitter, "If you know about Orlando Magic owner Dick DeVos' bankrolling of anti-LGBT causes, the hypocrisy will rankle you."

As pointed out on the Raw Story site yesterday, "the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation donated $500,000 to the anti-equality National Organization for Marriage — which helped shoot down same-sex marriage initiatives in eight states," and "Amway co-founder Richard DeVos has given $100,000 to Florida4Marriage, which succeeded in adding a voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state."

The article adds that "the Richard and Helen DeVos foundation reported a $540,000 donation in 2006 to Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based group that gave $400,000 to support Proposition 8 — which banned same-sex marriage in California."

It also points out that failed Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos's mother-in-law gave $450,000 to Focus on the Family, and that Dick and his wife, former Michigan GOP chair Betsy DeVos, led the effort to place an anti-marriage amendment on the Michigan ballot and gave more than $200,000 to the successful effort to change the state constitution. 

We at Metro Times know a thing or two about that, because we interviewed the director of Detroit's Triangle Foundation, Sean Kosofsky, about it shortly afterward, when Dick was running for governor. "He spent $100,000 to beat up on us with that when he didn't have to, because there were already five or six different laws on the books preventing us from getting married," Koskofsky told us, adding, "he's a demagogue."

Patriarch Richard DeVos has a documented anti-LGBT history going back as far as the 1980s, when he served on President Ronald Reagan's first commission to investigate HIV and AIDS. DeVos said of the experience: "I listened to 300 witnesses tell us that it was every body else’s fault but their own. Nothing to do with their conduct, just that the government didn’t fix this disease ... I said, you are responsible for your actions too, you know. Conduct yourself properly, which is a pretty solid Christian principle."

So why would a family steeped in staunch homophobia donate $400,000 to the victims of homophobia? Might it be some glimmer of recognition that they have funded the very mentality driving the violence against the LGBT community? Do you think it's possible DeVos feels something like guilt or remorse for his family's support of right-wing causes?

As we once quipped a decade ago: If you believe that, you don't know Dick.

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