Amazon will not be a part of this year's Seattle Pride, after the organization cut ties with the retailer over its donations to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians.
Seattle Pride released a statement explaining that it would no longer be partnering with organizations seeking to make a token gesture, known as "rainbow washing" their reputation, during Pride season, "despite harming our community with blatant, subtle, and sometimes unintentional words and actions throughout the rest of the year."
To that end, Seattle Pride rejected a $100,000 offer from Amazon, which also wanted naming rights in return. It intended to rename the event "Seattle Pride Parade Presented by Amazon." The decision was made after assessing data from the nonprofit government transparency group OpenSecrets. Through that process, Seattle Pride discovered Amazon donated more than $450,000 to members of Congress who voted against the Equality Act -- which, had it passed, would have added protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity at a federal level.
"We simply cannot partner with any organization actively harming our community through the support of discriminatory laws and politics," Seattle Pride said in its statement.
"It was important for us to really take a hard look at how these values align with us," Seattle Pride Executive Director Krystal Marx told NBC affiliate KING in Seattle. "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."
"Pride isn't for sale at any time of the year, but especially the month of June when our community comes together to celebrate," said Marx. "When someone has their name attached to the title of a full event that we haven't had for two years, it makes me, as a queer individual, think this parade is going to be entirely about Amazon and celebrating their contribution."
Seattle Pride also expressed deep concerns about the retailer's AmazonSmile program, through which customers can donate to charities while shopping. It pointed to an investigation that revealed more than 40 anti-LGBTQ+ organizations had signed up to receive funds through the program.
Speaking with KING, an Amazon spokesperson clarified that Amazon doesn't necessarily endorse the views of anyone participating in the program. They also said the retailer doesn't agree with every policy of the lawmakers to whom it makes donations. "This includes legislation that discriminates or encourages discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community," they stated. "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."
The spokesperson added that Amazon works hard to create an inclusive work environment for employees. "For five consecutive years we've received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate Equality Index," they said.
According to Seattle Pride, the organization hopes to recoup the losses in sponsorship through donations.