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Retailers including Amazon urge Tenn. to stop anti-LGBTQ legislation


Amazon and Ikea are among 142 businesses who signed a letter criticizing a Tennessee state law critics see as harmful to LGBTQ residents.

The open letter, credited to a group called Tennessee Businesses Against Discrimination, specifically calls out the recent passage by the state legislature of bill HB 386. The law will allow taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to deny otherwise qualified people to care for a child based on “religious objection.”

In addition to permitting taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to deny LGBTQ individuals and couples, the letter says HB 386 also allows denial of interfaith couples, single parents, divorced people, or “anyone to whom the agency has a religious objection.”

“We ask that lawmakers not pursue any further legislation that would target or exclude LGBTQ people, which would do harm to Tennesseans and create unnecessary hurdles to economic competitiveness,” state the letter. “We urge policymakers to remain committed to the values of innovation and growth that we all share.”

While the letter never directly threatens that any of the signees will stop doing business in Tennessee, it does state, “As we seek to maintain and grow our world-class workforce, we often face questions about whether our state is welcoming to the LGBTQ community and beyond. It is both a business imperative and core to our corporate values that our customers, our employees and their families, and our potential employees feel fully included in the prosperity of our state.”

In addition to Amazon and Ikea, other retail- and CPG-affiliated companies signing the letter include Dell Technologies, Mars Inc., Nike Inc., Nissan North America, Postmates, Unilever, and Warby Parker. Postmates was one of several signees that also included an individual statement at the end of the letter. In this statement, the company directly implied it will leave Tennessee if the state continues passing legislation it views as discriminatory.

“Postmates continues to be alarmed by the Lee Administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda, particularly as we consider expanding our presence in the Volunteer State,” said Postmates in the statement. “It is impossible for Tennessee to be a great place to do business while its government imposes policies of exclusion and discrimination. State leaders cannot and will not be able to expect companies like ours to power its economic engines while supporting legislation that undermines our ability to feel welcome in this state unless they commit to a new pathway to include all families & all workers. HB 386 undermines businesses’ ability to recruit top talent and grow in the state by policies that say not all are welcome — and it’s just plain wrong. To our Postmates fleet, our customers, our small business owners, our entire community: we stand with you no matter who you love or who you are, and we will not accept this kind of flagrant hatred.” 

Read the full text of the letter here.
 





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