A group of activists, actors, executives, and politicians are urging Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to choose an LGBTI-friendly state as the home of the second Amazon headquarters.
Plans for ‘HQ2’
The company plans to hire up to 50,000 people in another city. It has narrowed the search down to 20 locations. However, 11 of the locations are in nine states that don’t offer full protections to LGBTI citizens. These states include Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, and North Carolina.
These nine states haven’t passed comprehensive legal protection on the basis of gender or sexuality. Moreover, some of these states have additional barriers when it comes to same-sex couples adopting or trans people using the bathroom that correlates with their gender identity.
What activists are doing
‘Placing HQ2 in one of these states would not only be morally wrong, but also inconsistent with your stated values. We are asking you to only consider states that would protect your LGBTQ workers, their families, and your customers,’ the activists wrote in an open letter to Bezos.
The letter is part of the ‘No Gay? No Way’ campaign started to leverage Amazon’s headquarters search and to press state and local officials for more protections for LGBTI citizens.
‘Simply put, LGBT people are a vital part of a diverse and modern workforce, and failing to protect them and their families is bad for business. The other states that you are considering for HQ2 know this and have passed, and are proud of, these protections,’ the letter continues.
‘We support the actions of the tireless LGBTQ activists and advocacy organizations who are working in the states without protections, and who often face open hostility. We wholeheartedly endorse their efforts.’
‘There are many individual cities that have taken positive steps, but the lack of statewide protections means that employees and their families could lose the most basic protections on their evening commutes.’
‘Of course these states without basic protections say they welcome all of Amazon’s employees and the billions of dollars in accompanying economic investment. But talk is cheap. Amazon should demand that HQ2 states understand what a “cultural community fit” really means by fully protecting all LGBTQ workers, customers, and their families.’
Bezos and LGBTI rights
Bezos has considered himself an ally of LGBTI rights for years. In July 2012, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, donated $2.5 million [€2,029,475; £1,810,675] in support of same-sex marriage.