Today Postmates released a statement citing concerns over their ability to continue to invest in Tennessee if anti-LGBT legislation becomes law. Tennessee lawmakers are pushing the most extreme anti-LGBT slate in the nation, with discriminatory legislation advancing this week.
“The politics of division that sailed through the legislature this week not only undermines the equal dignity of all persons and emboldens policies of discrimination — but also it undercuts the economic prospects of hundreds of dedicated community members who live and are employed by companies like Postmates. We are extremly concerned passage of these bills could harm job growth for us, especially as we have economic incentive packages with the State to expand our presence; and as tech is in a worldwide race for top talent, Tennessee should not give companies any reason to reconsider where they call home. We’re taking a stand with our merchants, our Postmates fleet, our customers, our small business owners, our veterans, and our brothers and sisters, to say simply: no matter your race, color, creed, or food order — we stand with you.” — Vikrum Aiyer VP of Global Public Policy & Strategic Communications, Postmates.
“Tennessee is a great place to do business, and we want to keep it that way. Postmates is just one of many businesses to share grave concerns about their ability to continue investing in Tennessee’s economy if these bills become law,” said Joe Woolley, CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber. “It is imperative that our legislature reject these discriminatory bills and ensure that Tennessee remains open for business to all. This could be the first of many self-inflicted wounds to the state’s economy if these bills are passed. I hope senators consider this when voting for the bills next week.”
Postmates has also signed an open letter organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Freedom for All Americans. The letter is signed by over two dozen small businesses and corporations: AllianceBernstein, Amazon, Bridgestone North America, Curb Records, Dell Technologies, Exploration, Genesco, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, Salesforce, and Warner Music Group.
Tech giant Technet, which Postmates is a member of, sent a letter to the legislature citing concerns about their ability to compete in a global marketplace: “Legislation explicitly or implicitly targeting LGBTQ people is an economic liability for Tennessee, and it negatively impacts the state’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees. After all, technology companies are engaged in a worldwide fight for the top talent – talent that has the choice of where to work or begin the next startup. Tennessee shouldn’t make it harder to compete for these individuals and convince them to call the state home.”
Warner Music Group executives also sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee, urging him to oppose this discriminatory legislation. The letter was quoted saying: “WMG is proud of its longstanding presence in Tennessee. The continued success and growth of our business here depends on our ability to recruit and retain a best-in-class, diverse workforce. We often receive questions about whether Tennessee is a welcoming and inclusive place to live for the LGBT community. These bills send a clear message that LGBT artists, songwriters and employees are not welcome.”
AllianceBernstein, newly headquartered in Tennessee, spoke out first and early on in the legislative session, stating: “AB chose to move to Tennessee because we believe it is a welcoming state that is focused on growing jobs, incomes and the tax base, which will improve lives for all Tennesseans. We believe strongly in the need for continued investments in education, safety and infrastructure for all. The bills being debated in the current session of legislature send a clear message to certain constituencies that they are not welcome. Other states have tried to pass similar bills, and this has proven to be anti-growth, anti-jobs and against the interests of the citizens of those states.”
Woolley continued, “We have had a lot of members and community partners working behind the scenes to stop this legislation for months but now that it has moved forward, we need more, this is it. My hope is that other corporations will take the lead of our members Amazon, AllianceBernstein, Curb Records, and Warner Music Group and continue to issue statements against this legislation. We also need them to speak out as Postmates has on what could happen if the legislation is passed. There are drastic consequences to these actions by the state elected officials.”
“Tennessee is on the brink of becoming the next North Carolina – and the first state in the nation to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation this year,” said Kasey Suffredini, President of Strategy at Freedom for All Americans. “Business leaders know that Tennessee can’t afford to face the economic consequences of laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people. These bills target LGBTQ people in virtually every area of their lives and are some of the most dangerous attacks on our community nationwide. We stand with the business community in opposition to any efforts to discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families.”
Three out of the six original anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this session could reach the Governor’s desk as soon as next week.
This week, the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass SB 1499, which would require the Tennessee Attorney General to either pay for legal costs or itself defend discriminatory anti-transgender school policies. Its House companion, HB 1274, also passed the House Finance committee this week. Both bills are pending before the full House and Senate chambers.
The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee also approved SB 1304 which for would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare services to discriminate against LGBTQ people and people of minority faiths, among others. The full House has already passed its House companion, HB 836.
For more information and for businesses wishing to sign the open letter, contact [email protected].