Tim Cook and other tech leaders speak out against Indiana’s ‘anti-gay’ law

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Tim Cook Against Antigay – Silicon Valley’s focus on profits and innovation took a back seat to politics this week, as several high-profile technology executives publicly rebuked Indiana’s new law, which allows businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers.

On Friday, one day after the bill was signed into law, Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly criticized the state’s actions via Twitter. The iPhone maker is the world’s richest company.

Earlier in the week, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took a similar stance on the matter, tweeting, “Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”

Bill Oesterle, cofounder and CEO of Indiana-based Angie’s List, responded by tweeting his support to Benioff on Twitter.

Adding to the conversation, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote an open letter on the topic of discrimination.

“While Indiana is the most recent state to enact a law allowing for this kind of discrimination by businesses, unfortunately measures are being debated in other states across the country that would follow Indiana‚Äôs example,” Stoppelman wrote. “I encourage states that are considering passing laws like the one rejected by Arizona or adopted by Indiana to reconsider and abandon these discriminatory actions.”

PayPal cofounder Max Levchin also weighed in on the issue via Twitter.

Most of the tech names coming forward represent companies with a wide, national reach; so if consumers pay heed to their high-profile admonitions, the result would be a dent in Indiana’s overall business profile.

In addition, the #boycottindiana hashtag has gained momentum over the last few days, inspiring celebrities to also speak out, including former Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller, actorsAshton Kutcher and James Van Der Beek, and singer Miley Cyrus, among others.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 26, 2015.
 

IMAGE: MICHAEL CONROY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law on Thursday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who, during a press conference, referred to negative reactions to the law as “a misunderstanding.”

“If I thought it was about discrimination, I would have vetoed it,” Pence said. “This is not about legalizing discrimination; it’s about restricting the government’s ability to intrude on the religious liberty of our citizens.”

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