Will HB 2 Cost Us Amazon’s HQ2? | News

Will HB 2 Cost Us Amazon’s HQ2?

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This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

I’m on record as being skeptical about the Triangle’s Amazon bid actually being good for the Triangle [INDY], but let’s put that aside for now. What’s important for us today, considering that virtually every politician in North Carolina is drooling over the possibility of getting HQ2, is that the state’s anti-LGBTQ policies, including the sorta-repealed HB 2, may end up tanking the thing. As the N&O reports this morning, gay-rights advocates have launched a campaign called “No gay? No way!” to dissuade Amazon from relocating to nine states that don’t protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination—including North Carolina.
  • “Amazon shouldn’t choose Raleigh–or 10 other cities–for its second headquarters because states such as North Carolina don’t protect residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to gay-rights advocates. … Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are home to 11 of the 20 cities Amazon is considering and do not have anti-gay discrimination laws.”
  • While HB 2—the bathroom bill—was repealed and replaced in 2017, its prohibition on local governments protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination remains until (at least) 2020. So even if Raleigh wanted to put up a more gay-friendly front for the gay-friendly Amazon, state law prohibits it.
  • “Like many other tech companies, Amazon has a long history as a supporter of gay rights and anti-discrimination legislation and has its own gay and lesbian employee group, GLAmazon, founded in 2005. Amazon was one of more than 50 tech companies that signed a ‘friend of the court’ brief in 2017 in a case involving a Virginia transgender high school student. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who helped push for marriage equality in Washington state and is a recipient of the Human Rights Campaign’s equality award, has said, ‘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.’”
  • “The Human Rights Campaign’s index gives Raleigh one of the worst scores among the 20 Amazon finalists that the commission scored (not all finalists are included in the index). The committee’s Municipal Equality Index demonstrates ‘the ways that many cities can—and do—support the LGBTQ people who live and work there, even where states and the federal government have failed to do so.’ Raleigh had a score of 60 out of 100, according to the index. Miami was the only city of the finalists scored in the index that had a lower score than Raleigh—a 59 out of 100.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Leaving Amazon out of it for a moment, it’s becoming increasingly clear that corporations, especially those that purport to value diversity and tolerance, want to work in gay-friendly places, in part because their employees want to live in gay-friendly places. (There’s a reason N.C.’s conservative Chamber of Commerce pushed for an HB 2 compromise.) The HB 2 quasi-repeal may have taken the issue, and the state’s black eye, off the front burner, but the fact that North Carolina still allows discrimination against LGBTQ citizens—and in fact forces its municipalities to abide that discrimination—will only hurt us more as time goes on.

Related: Dan Bishop, the gay-hating Republican who authored HB 2, has a primary challenger from his left. [Yahoo!]

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