Amazon Narrows Its Search For New World Headquarters, Highlighting Importance of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections

By Shane Stahl • January 18, 2018 • 4:11 pm

Today, Amazon revealed the much-anticipated list of 20 cities it is considering as finalists for its second world headquarters, informally known as HQ2. With an initial investment of over $5 billion and the creation of 50,000 high paying jobs, whichever location is chosen stands to experience huge economic gains and job market growth. Cities on the short list  include Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Miami, FL; and Columbus, OH.

The company has indicated they are looking to build in a location that does not run contrary to their values of fairness and equal treatment; their current world headquarters is based in Seattle, Washington, where comprehensive non-discrimination protections – including for LGBTQ people – are part of statewide law and fortified with local protections.

All of the American cities on Amazon’s shortlist have passed local ordinances protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination (although the protections in Nashville and Raleigh may be overridden by discriminatory state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that preempt local LGBTQ non-discrimination measures). The fact that Amazon has chosen these cities as finalists for HQ2 underlines the importance of local cities and towns coming together to ensure equal treatment for LGBTQ residents.

Just eight of the cities, however, are in states with statewide non-discrimination protections. Without state protections, LGBTQ people are vulnerable whenever they venture outside of cities with full protections. Several of the states that stand to benefit from HQ2 – including North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas, have advanced or come close to advancing anti-LGBTQ laws, and in Massachusetts, a statewide ballot initiative this fall will determine the fate of protections for transgender people. Discriminatory proposals create a terrible climate for LGBTQ people and the people who love them, driving away potential employees – and, as we’ve seen in the past, employers. These states would be wise to keep Amazon’s business in mind when debating legislation concerning LGBTQ equality.

Having statewide non-discrimination laws in place speaks volumes about a state’s priorities when it comes to the treatment of its people; without them, the state stands to lose not only the opportunity for economic growth, but its reputation as a welcoming and safe environment for all. The world watched as North Carolina lawmakers’ discriminatory HB2 rocked their state economy,  with billions in lost revenue, thousands of lost jobs, and a tarnished reputation on the global stage.

Right now, many states are considering legislation that would enact or protect comprehensive non-discrimination protections. To stay up to date with the latest developments, visit our State Resource pages.

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