- Republican lawmaker pressures Jeff Bezos over ban on donations to anti-LGBT+, anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has hinted the organization may change rules to allow shoppers to support anti-LGBT+ and other hate organizations.
Shopping with Amazon Smile offers users the same prices and services as using the main Amazon online retail service. However, Amazon donates 0.05% of the value of sales to good causes.
Around 1million charities are registered with the service, giving shoppers a huge range to choose from. And so far, those tiny donations from Amazon have added up to over $200million given to charity – according to the latest estimates.
But currently Amazon bans organizations from joining if the Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a hate group.
Now Bezos has told a US Congress anti-trust hearing that system is ‘imperfect’ and hinted it may change.
He was responding to questions from Republican Matt Gaetz who represents Florida’s first congressional district in the US House of Representatives.
Gaetz argues hate groups are ‘mainstream’
Gaetz said the SPLC labels ‘mainstream Christian doctrine’ as ‘hate’.
In particular, he mentioned the American Family Association. It has a long record of LGBT+ hate, including wanting to take children away from gay and lesbian parents.
Another example Gaetz gave was the Family Research Council. It warned marriage equality would lead to a violent Christian rebellion in the US. And it has argued in favor of damaging ‘conversion therapy’ to ‘cure’ LGBT+ people.
Gaetz asked Bezos:
‘I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate?’
Bezos replied: ‘We use the Southern Poverty Law Center data to say which charities are extremist organizations, we also use the US Foreign Asset Office to do the same thing, those two together …’
Gaetz interrupted: ‘But why? Since they’re calling Catholics and these Jewish groups hateful groups, why would you trust them?’
Bezos: ‘Sir, I’m going to acknowledge this is an imperfect system and … And I would like suggestions on better or additional sources for how to …’
Gaetz then said: ‘My suggestion would be a divorce from the SPLC.’
Slightly later in the hearing, Bezos added:
‘While I accept what you’re saying that the SLPC and US Foreign Asset Office are not perfect, and I would like a better source if I can get it, that is what we use today.’
Meanwhile Gaetz also named three other examples he believes Amazon Smile should support.
One was Catholic Family Ministries, publisher of the Catholic Family News which the SPLC says is anti-Semitic.
He also mentioned the Federation for Federal Immigration Reform, which wants to ‘severely limit immigration into the US. The SPLC says it has ties to white supremacist groups.
And his final example was the Jewish Defense League. The SPLC says it is ‘a violent form of anti-Arab, Jewish nationalism’ that has organized terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile this week it emerged that Bezos’ former wife has donated $1.7 billion to charity in the last year – including $46million to LGBT+ causes.
Moreover MacKenzie Scott, previously MacKenzie Bezos has signed the Giving Pledge which Bill and Melinda Gates created. By doing so, she has promised to donate the majority of her $60billion fortune during her lifetime.
Bezos is worth around $180billion but has not yet made a similar pledge.
Bezos himself has also previously supported LGBT+ causes. However, in 2018, while he was still with MacKenzie, the couple surprised many by donating $10,800 to anti-LGBT+ Republican Senator Cory Gardner.