As anti-LGBT laws spring up around the country, many are concerned that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos will choose a state with harmful laws as his next headquarters for his billion-dollar company. The letter explicitly points out states that are in Amazon’s shortlist that have anti-LGBTQ laws on the books, and they include Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennyslvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia (you can find out why here).
Dear Mr. Bezos,
As Amazon continues the evaluation of finalist locations for a new HQ2, nine of the states currently under consideration have failed to address a glaring deficit — the lack of comprehensive legal protections for the LGBTQ population. The states are Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
In fact, as you can see from the attached document, most have introduced additional discriminatory and stigmatizing legislation, while seeking to court Amazon. The LGBT community is constantly having to fight off a barrage of oppressive and dangerous legislation in these states. 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.
In Amazon’s RFP that went out to cities, “Key Preferences Decision Drivers,” you outline the importance of a “Cultural Community Fit,” going on to say that the “project requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long-term success. This includes the presence and support of a diverse population, excellent institutions of higher education, local government structure and elected officials eager and willing to work with the company, among other attributes. A stable and consistent business climate is important to Amazon.”
Businesses large and small know this to be true and are right to evaluate the treatment of LGBTQ citizens as they look to make investments across the country. As the author of The Rise of the Creative Class Richard Florida states, historically there has been a correlation between centers of innovation and high rates of economic growth, and a thriving gay and lesbian community.
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.
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.
Roberta Bennett, Esq.
Chris Cormier Maggiano
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, D.D.
Rodney G. Grozier
Amb. (ret.) David Huebner
Lorri L. Jean
Fmr. U.S. Rep. Peter Kostmayer
Aisha & Danielle Moodie-Mills
Omar Sharif Jr.
Justin van Fleet
If you would wish to add your name to the letter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.