Greg Penner: Walton Family Member, Walmart Board Member and Other Anti-LGBT Connections

This month, we’ve discussed a variety of ways in which Walmart and the Walton family are pursuing an anti-LGBT agenda. Today, we’d like to highlight two more ways in which Walmart Board Member and Walton Family member, Greg Penner (son-in-law to Walmart Board chair Rob Walton) is connected to anti-LGBT activity.

Penner and anti-gay policies at eHarmony

Penner is one of four board members of eHarmony.  eHarmony has been widely criticized for failing to accommodate same-sex couples looking for matches on the site. The site was founded by Neil Clark Warren. As Time magazine explains:

Warren is a conservative Christian, a former recurring guest on James Dobson’s radio show, a man who used the overweening right-wing group Focus on the Family to help promote eHarmony in its early days — and a man who apparently believes that gays are some kind of different species.

eHarmony’s anti-gay stance even prompted one competitor, Chemistry.com to produce this ad mocking their discrimination and asking “who knows why eHarmony has rejected more than 1 million people looking for love?”

Greg Penner’s Ties to “Pray the Gay Away” Therapy

Greg Penner lives in the largely liberal San Francisco Bay Area. But, Gawker explains that Penner’s parents “… are evangelical sex therapists who believe in counseling gays into heterosexuality.”

In the book Counseling for Sexual Disorders[1], Joyce and Clifford Penner argue that “some sexual behaviors we believe to be biblically wrong – the Bible is clear about adultery, homosexuality, and other misuses of sex outside of marriage.” The Penners discuss how “Christian sexual therapists” can best approach this and warn that “if we are empathic, warm and understanding, clients may believe, ‘The Penners think what I’m doing is okay.’” The Penners advise therapists to “Ask for God’s wisdom, presence, and protection, knowing that your intention is not to condone sin.”

This approach runs directly counter to research and statements by the American Psychological Association (APA) which has warned that “APA is concerned about ongoing efforts to mischaracterize homosexuality and promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed and about the resurgence of sexual orientation change efforts.

While none of us deserves to be judged based solely on the actions or beliefs of our parents, Penner’s connection to this approach to “therapy,” coupled with Walmart and the Walton family’s troubling history of anti-LGBT behavior, raise serious questions about his position on LGBT rights.

We encourage readers to share the information you’ve seen this week about Walmart and the Walton family’s opposition to LGBT equality.


[1] Penner, Joyce J. R.N., M.N. and Penner, Clifford, L., Ph.D. Counseling for Sexual Disorders, 2005, page 98.

What do you think?