The organizers and board of Seattle Pride has cut sponsorship ties with internet retail behemoth Amazon citing more than $450,000 to lawmakers who voted against the Equality Act and a demand by the Seattle-based company for naming rights to the annual LGBTQ+ Pride parade.
Seattle Pride Executive Director Krystal Marx told local media that donations to anti-LGBTQ+ Washington state politicians and the participation of anti-LGBTQ+ organizations in the company’s AmazonSmile program also factored into the decision.
Marx noted that while Amazon offered a $100,000 sponsorship buy in, which was significantly higher than past donations the company has made in previous years, there were strings attached that included a request to call the annual celebration “Seattle Pride Parade Presented by Amazon.” It felt as if Amazon was trying to buy the event and the nonprofit itself, Marx told media outlet The Seattle Times.
“It was important for us to really take a hard look at how do 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 don’t feel it was possible to accept this money.”
Seattle Pride also cited $11,000 in contributions Amazon made to Washington legislators who sponsored anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender bills during the 2022 session, NBC News affiliate KING-TV 5 reported.
“We simply cannot partner with any organization actively harming our community through the support of discriminatory laws and politics,” Seattle Pride said in a statement.
An Amazon spokesperson told KING 5 that the company works with lawmakers on a broad array of topics that impact their business, but that did not mean they agreed with “any individual or political organization 100 percent of the time on every issue.”
“This includes legislation that discriminates or encourages discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community,” a spokesperson said.
The company went on to cite their support for Seattle Pride and LGBTQ+ issues on a national scale.
“Amazon has long supported Seattle Pride because we believe that the rights of LGBTQ+ people must be protected. We stand together with the LGBTQ+ community, were early and strong supporters of marriage equality, and are working at the U.S. federal and state level on legislation, including supporting passage of the Equality Act,” a spokesperson said. “We also work hard to offer an inclusive environment for employees and for five consecutive years we’ve received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index.”
Seattle Pride said organizers are also “deeply concerned” about the company’s AmazonSmile program, which allows customers to donate to charities as they shop. Seattle Pride cited an investigation revealing more than 40 anti-LGBTQ+ organizations were signed up to receive funds through the program.
Amazon said an organization’s participation in the AmazonSmile program does not mean the company endorses their views.
“It’s critical Amazon and other corporate partners of Seattle Pride – and for other Pride events nationally – do not allow their platforms to be used by organizations which are actively working against the rights of LGBTQIA+ people,” Seattle Pride said in their statement.
When evaluating corporate sponsors, Marx says the group started from the top, with the companies that offered the largest donations and stood to benefit the most from exposure and involvement with the parade, she told the Seattle Times.
“Amazon has been a sponsor for the parade on and off since 2009. It has donated roughly $42,000 since then,” Marx said.
“We simply cannot partner with any organization actively harming our community through the support of discriminatory laws and politics. Making the decision to cut Amazon as a sponsor wasn’t an easy one,” Marx said, and it will affect the nonprofit’s finances.