It has been fun following Amazon’s search for a new headquarters city in the past few months.
On Saturday, while waiting for my kid’s soccer game to finish, I dashed into the local (Seattle suburb) Starbucks for a quick pickup when what should I see on the front page of the Seattle Times, but a piece by the Washington Post: “The unspoken factor in Amazon’s search for a new home: Jeff Bezo’s support for gay rights.”
Well, you heard it here first.
As tmatt suggested in January, Amazon may use its massive influence to persuade certain red-state cities to soften up their stance on certain culture wars issues (ie transgender people and public restroom access) to be awarded the title of HQ2. I wrote a similar post in February after the list of the 20 finalist cities was published. And you know what? We were right.
What’s interesting in this latest installment of the Amazon-needs-a-new-home saga is that the religious element is front and center:
When Amazon executives recently toured the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of 20 finalists for a second company headquarters, local officials touted its growing workforce and low taxes as perfectly suited to accommodate 50,000 planned Amazon jobs.
But the local team also brought an unexpected guest: the Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, pastor of a predominantly gay megachurch in Dallas. He impressed upon the Amazon representatives how inclusive and welcoming the community has been to him, his husband and the 4,000 congregants at his church, according to people familiar with the meeting.
In the high-stakes contest to become Amazon’s new location, it may have been a shrewd move. Although the company’s search materials don’t make it explicit, Amazon has quietly made rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people part of its criteria in choosing a second headquarters, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely.
Cazares-Thomas pastors Cathedral of Hope, a United Church of Christ congregation, for those of you interested in such fact-driven religious details.