Seattle Pride cuts Amazon as a sponsor

Seattle Pride has cut off Amazon as a sponsor of its annual parade, citing financial support for lawmakers, organizations and legislation that does not support the LGBTQ community.

Amazon has previously sponsored the event, Seattle Pride CEO Krystal Marx said after the announcement Tuesday. But this time, the company came in with a $ 100,000 offer, significantly higher than previous donations, and conditions – including a request to call the annual party the Seattle Pride Parade, presented by Amazon.

It felt as if Amazon was trying to buy the event and the nonprofit itself, Marx said.

“It was important for us to really take a thorough look at how these values ​​align with us,” she said. “This Pride Parade is for our community to celebrate, to remember Stonewall in 1969, to continue the fight for our rights, and we do not feel it was possible to accept that money.”

Ahead of this year’s parade, scheduled for June, Seattle Pride requires all business partners to participate in a diversity, gender equality and inclusion survey and evaluation process. This process is part of a larger movement around the country to prevent companies from doing what Seattle Pride described as “symbolic gestures,” instead of actively supporting members of the LGBTQIA + community.

Amazon is the only business partner Seattle Pride has cut ties by following a deeper look at which lawmakers and organizations the company has supported, Marx said. The group has nine confirmed sponsors and is in talks with 18 others.

Amazon says it “has long supported Seattle Pride because we believe the rights of LGBTQ + people should be protected,” according to a company spokesman.

In assessing corporate sponsors, Marx says the group started from the top with the companies offering the largest donations and stood to benefit most from exposure and involvement in the parade.

Amazon has been sponsoring the parade to and from since 2009. It has donated about $ 42,000 since then, Marx said.

Its list of terms for the 2022 contribution included that the Amazon logo was prominent along the parade route, ensuring that the logo would be first and foremost than other business partners on promotional materials and allowing an Amazon leader to comment on the parade. Marx said the parade typically does not include speeches from business partners.

“It’s very likely it came from a place where we wanted to support who we are,” Marx said. “It was the extra demands that came with it that really threw us in a loop. They wanted so much visibility at such a high level.”

Seattle Pride also accuses Amazon of donating to politicians who support anti-transgender legislation, including two bills introduced in Washington, and support lawmakers who voted against the federal equality law, legislation designed to extend protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Amazon is a member of The Business Coalition for the Equality Act, a group of more than 500 companies that have expressed support for the bill.

“Amazon engages with policy makers and regulators on a wide range of issues affecting our business, customers and employees,” a company spokesman said. “This does not mean that we agree with any individual or political organization 100 percent of the time on all issues, and this includes legislation that discriminates or encourages discrimination against the LGBTQ + community.”

In addition to its own donations, Seattle Pride accused Amazon of facilitating donations from its customers to anti-LGBTQ groups on its AmazonSmile platform, a program that lets online shoppers donate 0.5% of their Amazon purchases to a charity of their choice. .

Amazon says nonprofit organizations participating in the program cannot support or promote discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, but Seattle Pride pointed to groups on the platform as the Arkansas-based Family Council, which was working to pass a constitutional amendment to define marriage. “as the union of one man and one woman.”

“We simply cannot cooperate with any organization that actively harms our community through the support of discriminatory laws and policies,” Seattle Pride said in its Tuesday statement.

A spokesman for Amazon said the fact that an organization has chosen to participate in the AmazonSmile program does not mean that the company supports its views.

Seattle Pride is asking Amazon to remove organizations from the AmazonSmile program that have an anti-LGBTQ agenda and reject future requests from similar groups. It also asks the company to request the return of political donations to candidates who introduce or support anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Making the decision to cut Amazon as a sponsor was not easy, Marx said, and it will affect the nonprofit organization’s finances.

Amazon’s donation would have helped Seattle Pride reach its proposed budget, meaning job security for the organization’s four employees, investment in more accessibility resources, and a guarantee that the parade and other events would be free.

Yet Marx said the day after the announcement was one of the “most encouraging days” of her time running the nonprofit. “People have been cheering left and right,” she said.

On Tuesday, Marx added, Seattle Pride received an anonymous donation with a note that read, “Amazon employee who is very proud of Seattle Pride for their announcement today.”

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