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US Rep Urges Amazon to Pick Location for HQ2 in State that Respects LGBTQ & Women's Rights

Monday Nov 20, 2017
US Rep Urges Amazon to Pick Location for HQ2 in State that Respects LGBTQ & Women's Rights
  (Source:AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

On Monday, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) encouraged Amazon CEO, President, and Chairman Jeff Bezos to take into account the social policies and priorities of the states under serious consideration to be the site for a second Amazon headquarters, called HQ2. She urged the company to weigh the states' policies toward lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals and women, which would impact Amazon's ability to hire and retain the quality workforce it needs.

Many rights for LGBTQ Americans are under assault under the Trump administration and many state governments. In addition, from 2011 to July 2016, 334 restrictions to abortion were enacted by states, accounting for 30 percent of all restrictions since Roe v. Wade. Slaughter is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus and a member of the Congressional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus.

Rochester and Buffalo, NY have submitted a joint application in response to Amazon's Request for Proposals. In October, Moody's Analytics put Rochester on a data driven list of top 10 cities for HQ2 based business environment, human capital, cost, quality of life, and transportation.

"Your site selection decision for HQ2 is not just a business decision; it is a choice that speaks to the kind of society we are seeking to build together," Slaughter wrote to Amazon CEO, President and Chairman Jeff Bezos. "A talented workforce, high quality of life, affordable cost of living, and economic incentives are important, but they shouldn't be the only criteria. State laws should also be examined, with a priority given to states with strong rights and protections for lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals and women. Discriminatory laws would undoubtedly affect your future HQ2 employees, impacting their quality of life and possibly your ability to protect and retain valued members of your team. That's why I encourage you to select a location in a state with strong rights and protections for all residents."

Amazon has a proven record of supporting rights for LGBTQ people, including support for federal LGBTQ non-discrimination protections. It has also helped finance the marriage equality campaign in Washington State, and is a founding member in a business coalition that has endorsed the Equality Act.

Slaughter is a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, which was created to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. It works toward removing discriminatory laws, eliminating hate crimes, and improving the health and wellbeing for all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

Women's health care rights are under unprecedented assault at the federal and state levels. The Trump administration recently issued federal rules that would allow any employer with a religious or moral objection to stop providing health insurance that covers contraception. These rights are also under siege at the state level. From 2011 to July 2016, 334 restrictions to abortion were enacted by states, accounting for 30 percent of all restrictions since Roe v. Wade. Slaughter is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, which works to promote reproductive health and protect a woman's right to choose.

During a meeting in September at Google DC headquarters with leaders in the technology industry to encourage partnerships with AIM Photonics and the REMADE Institute in Rochester, Slaughter encouraged Amazon to consider locating HQ2 in Rochester, NY. She is also working with the local Chamber of Commerce to promote the recently-released joint Rochester-Buffalo proposal to ensure the local community is putting forth the strongest possible plan as it competes in the toughest corporate-siting competition the world has ever seen.

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