LGBT rights advocates urge Amazon not to place headquarters in Raleigh

Could HB142 cost North Carolina Amazon's second headquarters?

RALEIGH, N.C. — LGBTQ rights advocates are encouraging Amazon to avoid Raleigh, as well as 11 other areas, on its list of potential spots for its much coveted second headquarters.

The campaign “No gay? No way!” launched on Feb. 1, and looks to put pressure on the company to not place its operations in a region that does not offer protections from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Joining Raleigh in the category of insufficient protections are Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  

That leaves Boston; Chicago; Denver; Los Angeles; Montgomery County, Md.; Newark; New York; Toronto, Ontario; and Washington, D.C.

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North Carolina suffered a serious economic setback for its embrace of House Bill 2, that nullified non-discrimination ordinances and limited transgender bathroom use. While much has been made of the so-called repeal of HB2, with the passage of House Bill 142, cities and municipalities are still limited when it comes to LGBTQ rights. All non-discrimination ordinances and changes to bathroom and locker room policies must come from the North Carolina General Assembly until 2020. 

Charlotte, which lost out on a PayPal extension, as well as a research operations center for real estate company CoStar Group, over the anti-LGBTQ law back in 2016, reportedly did not make Amazon’s top 20 list due to a lack of tech talent.

Research from the UCLA School of Law’s William Institute posits that states are costing themselves billions of dollars by not protecting their LGBTQ citizens from discrimination. In part due to lost revenue and lost wages from boycotts, but also as a result of the cost to the system that comes from the discrimination and minority stress experienced by those living in a hostile environment.

The campaign website reads:

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…

Amazon has been a champion for the LGBT community as early supporters of the Equality Act, backers of marriage equality campaigns, and active voices against legislation that discriminates against transgender people in states across the country. CEO Jeff Bezos, an HRC National Equality Award Recipient, has stated, “We want our employees – and the communities where we operate – to embrace that we’re all human, we’re all different, and we’re all equal. At Amazon, equality is a core value for us, and it is simply right.”

We hope that Amazon will live up to its strong track record of advocacy for equal rights and say NO GAY? NO WAY! 

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane told The News & Observer that the city “has always been an open, inclusive and diverse city. It’s what binds us and defines us.”

Amazon’s stated requirements include “a compatible cultural and community environment” that includes “the presence and support of a diverse population.”

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Raleigh was ranked 60 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. 

“The repeal of HB2 was a major step in repairing our state’s reputation and after the repeal last year, North Carolina attracted major new investment by companies such as Credit Suisse, Infosys, Allstate and Verizon,” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in a statement. “Amazon knows the progress we’ve made and what a great home North Carolina would make for HQ2.”

“LGBTQ North Carolinians are proud to live and work in the Old North State and want what every other American wants too – good jobs,” said Equality NC interim director Matt Hirschy, who told The News & Observer that the organization neither supports nor opposes the campaign.

“North Carolina lacks many of the crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people that are so vital for a welcoming and thriving business atmosphere,” he added. “That’s why it’s understandable that people from other parts of the country are expressing their concerns.”

“Many LGBTQ Americans don’t feel safe working in a state that has passed deeply discriminatory bills such as HB2, SB2, and HB142,” he continued. “If we want to stay competitive and attract good jobs to North Carolina, then the North Carolina General Assembly must take this issue seriously and pass comprehensive non-discrimination protections.”

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Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.