Amazon opposes anti-LGBT Tennessee legislation amid activist pressure

Amazon has signed a letter opposing a raft of anti-LGBT legislation in Tennessee as the tech giant plans to expand its presence in the business-friendly state.

"Legislation that explicitly or implicitly allows discrimination against LGBT people and their families creates unnecessary liability for talent recruitment and retention, tourism, and corporate investment to the state," the open letter to Tennesse legislators states.

The Jeff Bezos-led behemoth joined Salesforce, Dell Technologies, Postmates, Warner Music Group, Nashville Ballet, Nashville Cares and more than a dozen other companies in urging legislative leaders to reject several bills currently making their way through the Tennessee legislature. A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed the company did sign the letter.


Tennessee lawmakers are currently debating or considering bills that would ban same-sex couples from adopting and getting married, and restrict transgender people's access to public bathrooms, according to the Tennessean.

The letter, which was posted by a bipartisan advocacy group called Freedom For All Americans, continues: "We’ve seen time and again that discriminatory policies that negatively impact LGBT people and their families have drastic economic consequences, and such policies would surely put Tennessee at an economic disadvantage."

Earlier this month, a group of activists sent a letter to members of Glamazons, the retail giant's LGBT employee resource group, asking them to pressure the company regarding Tennessee's anti-LGBT legislation.

Participants celebrate with the Amazon original series 'Transparent' float at the LA Pride Parade on June 14, 2015, in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)

Participants celebrate with the Amazon original series 'Transparent' float at the LA Pride Parade on June 14, 2015, in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)

"Thank you to Amazon, especially the Glamazons, for standing up for LGBTQ Tennesseans today by opposing this hateful and discriminatory legislation," said "No Gay? No Way!" campaign manager Conor Gaughan in a statement provided to Fox News. "It sends an important message to legislators here in Tennessee, and across the country, that Amazon – alongside America's best corporations – are taking notice of laws and policies in the states where they do business; there will be consequences when states threaten LGBTQ rights."


Sponsors of the bills claim they are trying to protect "religious freedom."

Last March, the activist campaign called on Amazon to only consider LGBT-friendly states for its planned second headquarters. Amazon ultimately picked Virginia's Crystal City and New York, although it eventually pulled out of the latter after pressure from local advocates and politicians.

This isn't the first time that corporate America has played a role in opposing anti-LGBT legislation. A host of companies and organizations, including PayPal, the NCAA, Adidas and CoStar canceled plans to build, expand offices or host events in North Carolina – representing $3.7 billion in lost investment over 12 years according to an Associated Press analysis – during the debate over that state's 2016 "bathroom bill." The bill has since been partly repealed.


The open letter states: "As we recruit new talent and seek to retain our world-class workforce, we often face questions about whether our state is a welcoming and inclusive place to live for the LGBT community. It is both a business imperative and a part of our corporate values that our employees and their families, and potential employees, feel welcomed and included in the prosperity of our state."