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A new report from a political watchdog organization finds dozens of anti-LGBTQ organizations have been able to fundraise through Amazon’s charitable donation program, AmazonSmile, despite accusations lodged against some of the groups that their work violates AmazonSmile’s prohibition on beneficiaries that promote “intolerance” or “hate.”
According to the United Kingdom-based website Open Democracy, more than 40 U.S.-based organizations that oppose LGBTQ rights or support conversion therapy efforts were listed on AmazonSmile, which allows Amazon customers to donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to charities of their choice.
Among these beneficiaries of AmazonSmile’s charitable giving program are:
Both Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council were previously removed from the AmazonSmile program after controversy over their anti-LGBTQ statements and actions led some to object, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled both organizations as “hate groups.”
But earlier this year, under intense questioning from congressional Republicans — who used antitrust hearings to lambaste Amazon for allegedly being “biased” against conservatives, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos caved, opening the door to using different metrics to determine whether a charitable organization is ineligible to receive funds through AmazonSmile.
Bezos told U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) 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 for the funds.
But Gaetz alleged that using those two resources to make decisions was resulting in discrimination with organizations that hold “mainstream” conservative religious views, pointing to organizations like Catholic Family News, the American Family Association, and the Jewish Defense League.
Bezos conceded that Amazon was using an “imperfect system,” and said he’d be open to suggestions for other, more reliable sources that could be used to determine whether an organization should be removed from the list.
Under Amazon’s policy, organizations that “support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering or other illegal activities will lose their eligibility,” according to a company spokesperson who spoke to Business Insider.
Yet some of the organizations discovered by Open Democracy to be receiving donations through AmazonSmile include those that appear to violate those guidelines. One group has been involved in numerous court cases, both in the United States and abroad, opposing marriage equality laws, adoption by same-sex couples, or nondiscrimination laws.
Another organization’s leaders have claimed homosexuality “opens the door to the demonic realm” and that legalizing same-sex marriage “enforces” a “demonically-driven, immoral agenda.” Still another has attacked television shows, including American Idol, for increasing “social acceptance of homosexuality” by presenting LGBTQ people “as ordinary folks.”
A fourth, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA, has threatened employees who publicly disagree with its theological stance on human sexuality — including support for LGBTQ equality — that they could be subjected to “involuntary terminations.”
LGBTQ rights advocates have said such organizations should be removed from the AmazonSmile program immediately.
“Companies, if they really walk the talk, shouldn’t be giving their platform to organizations that are working to limit the rights of other people,” Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group ILGA-Europe, said in a statement.
She added that while it is good that Amazon has a diversity of groups to choose from, they shouldn’t be helping promote any organization “that is actively fueling hatred and/or working against the rights of other people.”
Open Democracy contacted six of the organizations on the list seeking information about their compliance with the program’s nondiscrimination policy. Only the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association responded, saying it was “grateful to participate in the AmazonSmile program” and it “does not engage in unlawful discrimination and we do not promote intolerance.
“We hope AmazonSmile will continue to respect the rights and dignity of all people, and won’t discriminate against faith-based groups based solely on their sincerely held religious beliefs,” the statement said.
Robbie de Santos, associate director of campaigns and communications at the UK-based LGBTQ rights organization Stonewall, told Open Democracy that it was “disappointing” to see organizations that have worked against LGBTQ equality platformed on AmazonSmile.
“We have raised our concerns with Amazon and will continue our work until every LGBT+ person is free to be themselves worldwide,” he said.
A baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple has violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law by also refusing to bake a birthday cake for a transgender woman.
Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones ruled that Jack Phillips, the proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, had discriminated against trans woman Autumn Scardina when he refused to fill an order she submitted requesting a birthday cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside -- with the colors representing Scardina's gender transition.
Jones also ordered Phillips to pay a fine of $500, on the grounds that he had violated the state's nondiscrimination law by refusing to bake the cake she requested simply because of her transgender status, reports Denver NBC affiliate KUSA.
Anti-LGBTQ evangelicals are panicking about "surviving the rainbow onslaught" during Pride month.
Noted hate group the Family Research Council has instructed its followers that there's "no escaping" the "sexual revolution" and complained that "Pride is the new religion."
The group's anti-LGBTQ leader, Tony Perkins, made the comments during his Pray Vote Stand webcast, Right Wing Watch reports.
“The world is upside-down when American pride is something we should apologize for, but sexual perversion is the stuff of parades," Perkins, an avowed Donald Trump supporter, complained.
A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that a Jewish conversion therapy practice must pay $3.5 million to former clients after it breached the terms of a settlement agreement that reduced the group's financial liability.
On Tuesday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey upheld a lower court's ruling finding that the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA), formerly known as Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH), had violated the terms of a settlement agreement reached with plaintiffs in December 2015, six months after a New Jersey jury found the organization had violated New Jersey's consumer fraud law.
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