***Update 8/15/2011 We have succeeded in securing the following statement from Bob Shimmin, Vice President, Food & Beverage Cinemark USA, confirming CineMark is offering same sex partner benefits. As proof Mr. Shimmin is offering the cover of their 2010 benefit package.
Mr. Shimmin wrote "I have included the cover page of the 2010 Benefits Packet that was distributed to all employees in the fall of 2009 which clearly highlights the fact that domestic partner benefits were added for 2010"
Mr Shimmin offered no further proof that CineMark has gender identity and sexual orientation policies other than the ones publicly available previously published in this article.
I appreciate that a ranking CineMark executive finally responded. I just wish it hadn't taken all this to get it done.
A few short years ago in 2008 information gleaned by legal actions it was discovered Plano Texas's CineMark CEO Allen Stock had made a donation of $9,999 dollars to support the passage of Prop 8.
It seemed to me then by making the maximum donation allowable Stock wanted to make it clear that he unequivocally supported Prop 8. I also wondered at that time how many other donations he had made against TBLG causes we didn't know about. However not everyone in the Gay and Lesbian community are as curious.
Disappointingly, immediately following the stripping of Californian marriage equality, CineMark in Plano Texas featured Harvey Milk the film. And despite local and nationwide protests by a minority of our community they profited from it. It was made clear to me at that time exactly how willingly a majority of our community will turn a blind eye to injustice, for convenience sake.
So just how invested is the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CCGLA) in the success of CineMarks Harvey Milk and its current joint project, the InLaw OutLaws? It turns out the local LGBT paper's coverage of the Plano milk protest in 2008 so incensed the CCGLA you probably won't see anything questioning CineMarks employment policy again there or in any other Gay for profit North Texas publication for that matter. Seemingly inexplicitly at the time, the CCGLA website Prop 8 announcement simultaneously featured a picture of the Dallas prop 8 protest and a apologist letter from the CineMark vice president distancing his company from his CEOs hate money.
Fast forward to 2011. I received a Email from Equality Texas announcing the premier north Texas screening of InLaws/OutLaws a gay movie which according to its plot summary "..... weaves together true stories of couples and singles, gay and straight to celebrate what we have in common: we love." And of all places it is to be screened at CineMark!
I wondered, what had changed since 2008? So I posted this facebook status update that was quickly responded to by Jeanne Rubin, the InLaw OutLaw event originator.
Despite being put off by the authoritative tone of the comment, it seemed that everything is better and there is no reason for concern but given the gravity of situation and my personal investment in equality I wanted to find this out for myself.
I wondered , had the CineMark CEO made personal reparations to the LGBT community? What interactions had Stock had with our community to show he had a change of heart? At this time I have not found evidence of that. Then I wondered if CineMark has made changes in its employment policy to include equality for transgender people and partner benefits? Now that could be a game changer!
So I followed up on that meeting that took place in Plano with numerous Gay and Lesbian leaders and CineMark following Prop 8. I was assured by this source as was the Dallas Voice that CineMark would include partner benefits, sometime in the future meaning now. Curiously when I called those people who were in attendance none of them would go on record confirming they had even attended the meeting, let alone comment on CineMarks Partner Benefit policy. Why not?
Is it all about a dollar?
Well it turns out that the Vice President of the CCGLA is Jeanne Rubin who responded initially on Facebook and the man whom she represented only as a 'friend' at CineMark is now president of the CCGLA Bob Shimmin and also a Vice President of CineMark!
Still, I wanted to write a up beat positive article and I'd rather hear it from a Texas horse's mouth so I continued asking my contacts this time reaching further out about the state.
I called Equality Texas (EQTX) who would not comment on the CineMark event or its employment policy. The only thing they would offer was the showing was not an official Equality Texas event even though it appears on there web site, they promote it other places and they are the ones to benefit financially from ticket proceeds.
And like all the others I talked to EQTX directed me back to the event sponsor Jeanne Rubin.
So back to Jeanne Rubin I go.
After repeated requests to Rubin to provide me with the documentation that was promised to her and the CCGLA at the 2009 meeting between Gays, Lesbians and CineMark she relented, but only after I told her I will be publish regardless. Rubin offered this on the record about there partner benefit policy "You can say I understand that they do. However I am sorry this is the article you are choosing to write."
No Jeanne, I don't choose to write this. The Texas Gay and Lesbian Community rocks behind transgender causes every time we need you. The last thing I want to do was write this incriminating negitive article, but I have been left with no choice.
And since CineMark has not returned any of my phone calls from this mighty blogger, how about the USA's riche$t gay advocacy group, HRC?
As it turns out CineMark also refused to return there inquires according to Liz Cooper, Coordinator for the HRC Workplace Project which compiles the Corporate Index. She told me because CineMark has not responded to there inquires they based the employer information shown here on publicly available information, which she emailed to me.
This is nice, but a employment application does not confirms the company's employment policy toward transgender people and it says nothing at all about partner benefits. And it is not a employee handbook that the HRC website says it uses as confirmation.
Then I asked Cooper how they knew that CineMark was offering partner benefits since 2010 as she had stated since HRC's inquires were ignored? That report she said was based on word of mouth because "someone had heard" they had. Really, like someone named Jeanne or Bob perhaps?
Really? HRC could not verify any of those policies and there assurances reek of cronyism. And really, Jeanne, given your 'friendship' with CineMark's VP don't you think you could have another 'meeting' with him and confirm that CineMark does indeed have partner benefits like you 'heard'? Like they promised to do in 2009?
Or is it just to convenient to ignore it?
There was much debate if CineMark corporation should be held accountable for the private actions of it CEO in 2008 and I am sure there will be again given these revelations.
I didn't attend the 2008 protests of CineMark because I felt they were inappropriate at the time however I'm not so sure the time isn't right for protest now.
Jeanne Rubin, I do appreciate your invitation to come to the InLaw OutLaw showing and I will bring a friend if I do. And Signs. Cronyism sucks. Corporate money mongering on our graves sucks. Or something like that.
***Update! The following comments were posted on my Facebook after I posted a link to this article.
This person has not friended me so I do not have access to her facebook profile but since she identified as a employee of CineMark I presume this is her on Linked In Lynn Wolfe, Executive Assistant at Cinemark
No honestly I do not know why she thinks there is anger involved or that as a transgender woman I am not aware of what it means to live in this red Lone Star.
I'll be looking forward to receiving the conformation of CineMarks employment policy that Lynn Wolfe has promised though for the life of me, I can't understand why would take more than a day to send me a PDF file or link to it.