Business Society

WaPo: The unspoken factor in Amazon’s search for a new home: Jeff Bezos’s support for gay rights

Interesting WaPo piece in the weekend edition about the role that LGBT rights might be playing in the Amazon HQ2 decision. Seems a but speculative to me but an interesting read nonetheless. Some highlights: 

As Amazon executives recently toured finalist locations to help select what they’ve dubbed HQ2, they asked public officials about what sort of “compatible cultural and community environment” — the wording from the company’s search parameters — each city offers, adding to speculation about whether Amazon will choose a liberal stronghold. In North Carolina, company representatives asked pointed questions of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) about several state policies such as the “bathroom bill,” which restricted the use of public facilities by transgender people, according to a person in the room. In another city, an Amazon executive groaned at the mention of proposed legislation in Georgia that would restrict funding for same-sex adoption, according to another person who attended the meeting between the company and state and local officials.

The task of asking Bezos fell to Jennifer Cast, one of Amazon’s first employees who had left the company and was volunteering for the same-sex marriage campaign. She was 50 and living with her partner and their 7-year-old twin boys.

“I want to have the right to marry the love of my life and to let my children and grandchildren know their family is honored like a ‘real’ family,’’ she wrote in an email to Bezos. “We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win.’’

Cast asked for $100,000.

Bezos responded: “This is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie.’’


Officials in other regions have argued that if Amazon wants to maximize its support for the issue, it could relocate to — and bring change to — a politically red state.

With someone like Bezos around, city and business leaders in Dallas and Austin, both HQ2 finalists, say they could do more to change attitudes in the state. The state’s Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has said that homosexuality is a choice and called on Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to resign after the high court made its landmark gay-marriage ruling.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines was one of the city’s earliest and most ardent backers of better LGBT rights. “I think we’re more impactful here than we would be anywhere else,” chief executive Doug Parker said.

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