Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, has issued an exclusive statement to Change.org in response to an embarrassing controversy linking the popular urban apparel company to anti-gay, anti-choice group “Focus on the Family.”
After Christianity Today reported that Mycoskie was apparently developing a relationship with Focus on the Family, the news infuriated people who were hoping to do good with their TOMS purchase, through the company’s shoe giving program in developing countries. Across Facebook and Twitter on Friday, gay, lesbian, and allied customers expressed outrage that TOMS would associate itself with an anti-gay, anti-choice group. Ms. Magazine started a petition on Change.org that quickly received more than 400 signatures in just a few hours asking TOMS to drop their relationship with Focus on the Family.
Today, Mycoskie issued the following statement to Change.org, expressing “regret” for Mycoskie’s speaking appearance at a Focus on the Family event on June 30, claiming that the religious group had misrepresented its relationship with TOMS as a “giving partner” in its shoe program:
Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family's beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company's part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.
Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.
So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud.