When Amazon narrowed the list of contenders for its second headquarters down to 20 earlier this month, some LGBT activists were surprised to find 11 cities in states without comprehensive protections against sexual identity-based discrimination that made the cut.
To highlight the issue, activists created NoGayNoWay.com, a website urging Amazon not to choose Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Nashville, Raleigh, Columbus, Miami, Northern Virginia, or Indianapolis for HQ2. Activists also plan to fly a plane and mobile billboard displaying their message around Amazon’s Seattle headquarters Thursday, timed with the company’s quarterly earnings report.
Here’s how the LGBT rights advocates frame the issue on the “No Gay, NoWay” website:
31 states fail to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Surprisingly, nine of those states are home to 11 of the 20 finalist cities vying for Amazon’s second headquarters.
It is shocking that Amazon would consider locating HQ2 with its over 50,000 employees in a state that doesn’t protect LGBT people or their families. In these nine states, it is legal to fire someone, deny them housing, or refuse them service just because of who they are or who they love.
Amazon is selective about issues it will champion publicly but the company has backed LGBT rights in the past. Amazon has endorsed marriage equality campaigns, shown support for lawsuits over transgender discrimination, and facilitates an active LGBT employee group called GLAmazon.
Longtime LGBT activist Conor Gaughan launched the campaign, with support from Kate Kendall of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other grassroots organizers.
The “No Gay, No Way” campaign is the latest of several controversies surrounding Amazon’s search for a second home, where it will establish a $5 billion campus that can host up to 50,000 employees. The company has also taken heat for its request for government incentives from cities that are in the running.
Amazon did not specifically mention the LGBT community in the HQ2 request for proposals that the company issued last fall. But the RFP does say that Amazon is looking for a city with “a compatible cultural and community environment,” including the “presence and support of a diverse population.”