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Sex and Politics

Letter to Southwest Airlines

May 7, 2014

Mr. Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board
Ms. Ginger Hardage, Senior Vice President, Culture and Communications
Southwest Airlines
P.O. Box 36611
2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas, TX 75235

Re: Chase Bank – Censorship via Denial of Banking Access

Mr. Kelly and Ms. Hardage:

The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance has been delighted to support Southwest Airlines through an affinity program hosted by JP Morgan Chase (“Chase”.)  However, we must call your attention to the disturbing practices of Chase with regard to customers involved in erotic expression.

Certainly your stellar flight record and customer service has played a big part in our choice to always fly Southwest, but so has your community involvement.  Attending events and conferences across the United States that represent a wide variety of issues, identities and communities and seeing that Southwest is a primary sponsor of these events tells us a great deal about the Southwest corporate culture.

In the past, Southwest has responded to discriminatory behavior promptly and in accordance with your non-discrimination policies.  Your union president of TWU556 stated, in response to a case of offensive comments by a pilot:

“I believe one reason why this incident has received so much attention is because we are Southwest Airlines and people expect more from us. This kind of behavior is not part of our culture and cannot continue to be overlooked or tolerated. Southwest Airlines is a Company that cares about people and that means all people’s rights must be respected.”  See: https://twu556.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/unity/2011/uu_2011_06.pdf

We could not agree more with that statement and so, faced with a situation where a Southwest partner is clearly not respecting the rights of all people, but is acting in a discriminatory fashion, we felt compelled to contact both you at Southwest and your partner, JP Morgan Chase.

We believe that the Southwest’s values and culture will not support any form of discrimination.  Attached you will find our detailed communication with Chase about denial of credit to members of the adult entertainment industry.  It is our understanding that this is a widespread effort undertaken by Chase, at the behest of the U.S. Department of Justice, to suppress access to the banking system by adult entertainment performers and businesses, without regard to the legality or legitimacy of such businesses. Such actions directed to individuals involved in the production or sale of constitutionally-protected erotic entertainment reeks of censorship.

We hope that you will join us in monitoring this situation and, if necessary, support non-discrimination by withdrawing your program should JP Morgan Chase not re-consider its position with regard to these customers.

Sincerely,

Ricci J. Levy, Executive Director

cc:  Lawrence G. Walters, Esq., General Counsel
Hardy Haberman, Chairman of the Board