Call it the 'revenge of the bathroom bill.' Gay rights activists are calling on Amazon to dump Austin and Dallas from its list of finalists for the company's lucreative second headquarters, due to what they see as the state's less than welcoming laws toward LGBT individuals, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The activists staged a 'No Gay, No Way' protest at Amazon's Seattle headquarters during the company's Annual Meeting on Thursday, to urge CEO Jeff Bezos to scratch not just the two Texas cities off the list, but to avoid six other cities in states which have what they consider 'less than inclusive' laws on the books. They include Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and the Washington DC suburbs in Virginia, all of which the activists say have legal discriminations against LGBT people on the books.
"Hey, Alexa, why would Amazon go to a state that discriminates against gays," the activists chanted, in reference to Amazon's personal assistant.
They say it would be a bad business move, because Amazon would find it far more difficult to recruit the types of talent it will need to staff 'HQ2' in a state which is seen to be as 'less than welcoming.'
But Rafael McDonnell, who is with a gay rights organization in Dallas, says the opposite is true as well. He says the presence of Amazon could help tip the scales in Texas away from anti-Gay laws proposed by social conservatives.
"I look at it from the perspective that, we are not so great today, but how about tomorrow," he said. "What can we do to improve things?"
Among the Texas laws cited by the activists include the proposed 'bathroom bill,' which failed twice in the 2017 Legislature, which would have limited restroom rights of transgender people. They also cite voters in Houston rejecting a 'non discrimination ordinance' approved by City Council, and a measure which requires that teachers in sex ed classes that being gay is an 'unacceptable lifestyle.'