February 07, 2018
There isn't a neighborhood in America that doesn't see Amazon packages on porches every single day. In some cities, though, locals are hoping to see more of that trademark smile -- in the form of a new, multi-billion dollar headquarters. Politicians and mayors across the country have been desperately vying for the bid, which could send local employment and revenues soaring. But, at what cost?
We've already seen the effect on states like Georgia, where Governor Nathan Deal (R) was furiously trying to silence Republicans who care about religious liberty. Desperate to keep their hat in the ring for the new Amazon facility, Deal tried to shush conservatives from bringing up a topic they think will hurt their chances. People like Brant Frost, chairman of the state's Coweta County GOP, don't care if "simply floating a religious liberty proposal" could hurt Atlanta's chances. "I'd rather have the First Amendment than Amazon," said Brant Frost V, the chairman of the Coweta County GOP. "I won't barter away my children's birthright of religious freedom for 30 pieces of economic development silver."
But other cities may be more than eager to. And that's exactly what LGBT groups are counting on. The far-Left is fiercely fighting to keep Amazon out of conservative states like North Carolina. Now that the company's whittled the list of cities down to 20 finalists, liberals are turning up the heat. "Given [Amazon's] size, given their import in the current business climate, they have an incredible opportunity to send a signal that states that discriminate," argued the National Center for Lesbian Rights, part of a coalition of extremist groups trying to influence Amazon's decision. Its "No Gay, No Way" campaign is heaping the pressure on the company, which is hardly a stranger to its causes. Founder Jeff Bezos gave the largest-ever gift to the same-sex marriage movement in Washington State, writing a $2.5 million check to the effort in 2012.
In the end, it's a battle between the company's beliefs and its bottom line. If Amazon makes the decision with its head, the choice is simple. As financial experts have pointed out repeatedly, the states with religious liberty protections also happen to have the best business climates. Economies are booming in states that refuse to pass the Left's radical "Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity" laws. In fact, of the top 10 states for doing business last year, according to Forbes, seven of the 10 didn't have the policies that LGBT activists say should be a prerequisite of Amazon's contract. Ironically, North Carolina, #2 on Forbes list -- and a frontrunner for the headquarters -- is not only one of the fiercest opponents of the Left's bathroom laws but also one of the most outspoken defenders of religious liberty.
The elected leaders willing to barter away the freedoms of their citizens to drive up quarterly employment numbers should consider not only the long-term costs but the type of jobs that Amazon will bring to their states. Amazon's alleged poor treatment of its employees and harsh work environment has been the subject of several scathing reports.
Here's the reality that elected officials need to understand: Amazon isn't offering 30 pieces of economic development silver; it's offering a pile of silver-plated coins that will soon lose their shine.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.