Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ history of supporting gay and transgender rights has many speculating that his company’s second headquarters will land in an LGBT-friendly city.
A new report from The Washington Post gives weight to that idea, citing two anonymous sources who say Amazon is vetting cities for their attitudes toward gay and transgender people, among other criteria. Bezos owns The Post independently from Amazon.
GeekWire asked Amazon to comment on the report and we were directed to the Amazon HQ2 Request for Proposals. It says Amazon “requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long-term success,” including “the presence and support of a diverse population.”
Amazon is not as politically active as some of its tech titan peers but Bezos has been supporting LGBT causes for years. In 2012, he and his wife donated $2.5 million to a Washington state campaign to protect the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
A separate Washington Post story, published in response to President Donald Trump’s claims that the paper acts as a “lobbyist” on behalf of Amazon, also reveals clues into Bezos’ ideological values. In it, Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor, stresses that Bezos does not weigh in on any editorial decisions at the paper. But “the closest Bezos has come to making a coverage suggestion, Baron said, was when he wondered whether The Post might want to have a columnist specializing in gender issues.”
In February, LGBT activists launched NoGayNoWay.com, a website urging Amazon not to choose Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Nashville, Raleigh, Columbus, Miami, Northern Virginia, or Indianapolis for HQ2. The goal is to pressure Amazon not to plant its second headquarters in a state without comprehensive protections against sexual identity-based discrimination.
“We are heartened to read the news that ‘rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people [are] part of its criteria in choosing a second headquarters’,” Conor Gaughan, campaign manager for No Gay? No Way! said in a statement in response to the Washington Post story.
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.
Amazon has narrowed its search for a second headquarters to 20 cities. The company promises to bring 50,000 jobs and $5 billion worth of investment to the city that wins. The winner will be announced sometime this year, Amazon says.