Metro Weekly

Jeff Bezos opens door to allowing donations to anti-LGBTQ groups through Amazon Smile

Amazon CEO suggests company may no longer use Southern Poverty Law Center's hate group list to determine eligibility for donations

jeff bezos, amazon, anti-gay, anti-lgbtq, amazonsmile

Jeff Bezos – Photo: Seattle City Council, via Flickr

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos potentially opened the door to allowing customers to donate to anti-LGBTQ groups during an antitrust hearing on Capitol Hill earlier this week.

Bezos caved under fierce questioning from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) about Amazon’s Smile program, which donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of a customer’s choice.

Under the current guidelines, however, some groups are ineligible to receive donations because they allegedly “engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities.”

Gaetz asked why certain organizations, such as Catholic Family News, the Federation for Federal Immigration Reform, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and Jewish Defense League are not eligible to receive donations.

Bezos responded that Amazon currently uses information from the U.S. Foreign Asset Office and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of known “hate groups” to determine whether an organization is ineligible, according to Business Insider.

“I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate?” Gaetz said of the SPLC. “…Since they’re calling Catholics and these Jewish groups hateful groups, why would you trust them?”

Bezos acknowledged that Amazon was using an “imperfect system,” and was open to suggestions on how to determine eligibility, to which Gaetz suggested “a divorce from the SPLC.”

Later in the hearing, Bezos was again asked about the SPLC and implied that Amazon would explore other options when determining appropriate organizations to which customers may choose to donate.

“While I accept what you’re saying that the SPLC and US Foreign Asset Office are not perfect, and I would like a better source if I can get it, that is what we use today,” Bezos said.

If Amazon were to follow Gaetz’s lead and allow the groups he mentioned to receive donations through the Amazon Smile program, the company would effectively be funneling money towards a number of groups that vehemently oppose LGBTQ rights, including the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, which was removed from Amazon Smile’s list of eligible organizations last month.

See also: One Million Moms: Whole Foods is “saturated in absolute filth” after sponsoring drag queen event

According to the SPLC, the American Family Association regularly engages in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric towards any expansion of LGBTQ rights, based on the belief that homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism are sinful and harmful to society.

AFA’s “One Million Moms” offshoot has become infamous for calling for boycotts of companies who express support for LGBTQ rights or representation, with the Hallmark Channel serving as its most recent target due to the channel’s statements that it may be considering introducing LGBTQ characters or an LGBTQ storyline for one of its famed Christmas movies.

The Family Research Council, meanwhile, regularly lobbies lawmakers to oppose legislation that promotes LGBTQ rights or same-sex marriage, including nondiscrimination bills, anti-bullying laws, hate crime laws, and allowing LGBTQ individuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.

FRC even opposed a Trump administration initiative calling on countries to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, even in places where homosexuality or same-sex activity is punishable by prison or death.

The group’s president, Tony Pekins, said that pushing countries to repeal their anti-LGBTQ laws would be a form of “cultural imperialism.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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