Gay-rights group says Amazon should avoid Indianapolis, 10 other cities

WASHINGTON A gay-rights group is calling on Amazon to eliminate 11 of its final 20 locations as possibilities for its second headquarters, including Indianapolis.

The group behind the campaign, “No Gay, No Way,” says at issue are the laws that the nine states that house the cities have regarding LGBTQ protections. They claim the states don’t do enough to protect their residents from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, particularly when it comes to employment protections.

The group also points to Indiana as not having a hate crime law on its books as reason for its inclusion on its list. Earlier this week, another effort to push forward with a hate crime bill failed in the legislature.

Local Indianapolis area leaders responded to the campaign Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett wrote:

“In 2005, Indianapolis was one of the first cities in Indiana to create a comprehensive human rights ordinance that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. For the last 13 years, our community’s pledge to provide a safe, welcoming home for all our residents has allowed Indianapolis to thrive, attracting top talent and innovative companies.

Our city – thanks to a bipartisan coalition of elected leaders and passionate, caring residents – have demonstrated time and time again that Indianapolis is a place that welcomes all.”

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, who played a role in the city’s pitch to Amazon also issued a statement:

“Despite reports discounting Indianapolis as a place that welcomes all, protections for gender identity and sexual orientation exist in cities across our state, to include Indianapolis, which has had a human rights ordinance in place for over a decade. The Indy metro is an inclusive and diverse place that upholds equality and tolerance hand-in-hand with its business community. The City of Fishers signed into record its proclamation as an inclusive city in 2015. This act proclaimed Fishers as proud of its growing diversity, intolerant of discrimination of any kind, and established expectations that all governmental agencies, businesses, and individuals residing in Fishers to adhere to the core values of equality, tolerance, human dignity, diversity, and inclusiveness. “

The Indy Chamber also issued this statement:

"The Indy Chamber and the greater Indianapolis community have consistently advocated for measures that defend the rights of all Hoosiers and promote our region as a welcoming, inclusive place to start and grow a business. Indianapolis, a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community for many years, has had in place a comprehensive human rights ordinance since 2005, with many surrounding communities passing ordinances on their own. The Indy Chamber is a founding organization of the Indiana Competes coalition, formed as a collection of businesses across the state to keep Indiana competitive by ending discrimination of all kinds. As recent history has shown, when faced with great adversity, we do what Hoosiers do best and come together to advocate for who we truly are as a region and as a people. Indy welcomes all."

Butler University Assistant Professor of Political Science Greg Shufeldt says while the campaign could put Indianapolis at a competitive disadvantage for landing the company, it could also serve as further incentive to choose Indianapolis as its HQ2 landing spot. He chalked it up to a potential for the company to want to change the fabric and influence the culture of the location it chooses.

“It might not move the needle in a place like Boston, but if it moved to a place like Nashville or Indianapolis, places that are often called blue dots in red states, it could actually move the needle in a way that socially responsible company might actually want to be a part of,” Shufeldt said.