Marketing to gays and lesbians is good business, say companies

Despite the tepid economy, thousands of gay men and women are expected this week in Miami Beach for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's annual Winter Party Festival fundraiser.

"Even though the economy shows everyone is cutting back, gay people are cutting back less," said Bob Witeck, CEO and co-founder of Witeck-Combs Communications in Washington, D.C., which specializes in gay strategic services.

Recognizing gay buying power, many major U.S. businesses continue to court the market. Task Force/Winter Party sponsors now include American Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy and Showtime Networks.

"This year, we are doing well in terms of corporate sponsorships and exceeding our goals," said Russell Roybal, The Task Force's deputy executive director of external relations.

"Our corporate partners are very important to us. They provide a certain legitimacy to our cause that sometimes isn't reflected by our elected leaders," Royball said. "The corporate world seems to be a little bit further ahead in recognizing the importance and value that LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people bring to American society."

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