Conservative Christian lobbyist Rev. Mark Creech says North Carolina would be better off not getting Amazon’s planned second headquarters if the company tries to shape public policy in a pro-LGBTQ direction.
“Amazon is a huge corporate entity,” said Creech, a lobbyist who is executive director of the Christian Action League, which he says represents evangelicals from 17 denominations in the state. “That would make me nervous.”
The organization posted a story on its website last week about the #nogaynoway campaign, a public relations effort by an ad-hoc group of advocates for those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer.
The campaign involves ads running in Seattle, Amazon’s hometown, urging the company not to build its coveted HQ2 in a state that fails to guard legal rights for LGBTQ people.
Raleigh remains on Amazon’s top-20 list of possible sites for the headquarters, which Amazon has said would be a $5 billion building with 50,000 well-paying jobs. Including Raleigh, 11 of the cities on Amazon’s list are in states that don’t specifically forbid discrimination against LGBTQ people in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
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.
In the article on the Christian Action League’s website, Creech says that making sexual orientation and gender identity specially protected classes – giving people grounds for lawsuits when they feel they have been discriminated against – is essentially anti-business. Such laws, the article says, “interfere with the free market, mandate the employment of homosexual and transgender persons in inappropriate occupations, undermine the rights of business to set dress and grooming standards, violate privacy and can lead to costly lawsuits against businesses.”
The Christian Action League was involved in crafting House Bill 2, which became known around the nation as the “bathroom bill.” It prevented North Carolina cities from passing their own non-discrimination policies designed to protect transgender people.
A backlash followed the passage of the law, with artists canceling performances in the state and PayPal withdrawing plans to build a global operations center in Charlotte.
Republican lawmakers who control the legislature and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper partially repealed HB2 last year but set temporary restrictions on new local anti-discrimination ordinances.
Then last fall, Cooper signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination in his administration and in companies that do business with the state.
Creech said his Christian Action League has not taken a stand on whether it wants Amazon to come to the state.
“I’m just stating what the political landscape would be if they come,” he said. “Amazon is a huge corporation and it’s plausible to think that with as many jobs as they would bring, they could possibly bring considerable political leverage along with them.”