Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos pledges $2.5 million to Washington's gay-marriage law
A supportive employer
I am not surprised by Jeff Bezos’ support of marriage equality in Washington [“Big gift raises Bezos’ political profile,” page one, July 28].
On my first day of work at Amazon in 2000, I rode the elevator with a transgendered co-worker who worked in our customer-service department. Although this will may seem fairly unremarkable to many today, to a 22-year-old from the East Coast, seeing a 6-foot-2, 200-pound person with a five o’clock shadow, in 4-inch heels and a dress was a surprise. When I mentioned it to my office mate he replied matter-of-factly, “Oh, that’s Don. He/she is in the process of going through gender-reassignment surgery.”
I remember thinking to myself, “Seattle is a very tolerant and progressive city.” However, upon further reflection, while Seattle does lean liberal on many social issues, the fact was that Amazon (by Bezos example) was a very welcoming company where employees such as Don or Jen Cast could be open about their sexual orientation and not fear reprisal or harm to their careers.
At the time of Cast’s retirement in 2001, she was one of the most senior and trusted members of the Amazon executive team, and her sexual orientation was not a secret to most people who worked with her.
A lot has changed with respect to gay rights in the past decade. Today, there are many CEOs who are supportive of their gay employees. Few, however, are like Bezos, who has been this way since day one.
— Ryan Sawchuk, Seattle