Business

Companies who’ve condemned ‘religious freedom’ bills

Naith Payton April 2, 2015
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We look at some of the businesses and organisations who’ve spoken out against “religious freedom” bills across the US.

NSCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing might be associated with more socially conservative parts of the Deep South, but they said in a statement: “NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana.

“We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion with our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

Apple

Apple’s out CEO wrote a column in the Washington Post to condemn Indiana’s law.

He said: “These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.

“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business.

“I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptised in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.”

Walmart

Yesterday Walmart, the world’s biggest private employer, spoke out about the newly passed bill in Arkansas, where they are based.

“Every day, in our stores, we see first-hand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers, and communities we serve. It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual.

“Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For those reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation”.

Coca-Cola

The drinks giant made a statement about proposals in Georgia.

“Coca-Cola does not support any legislation that discriminates, in our home state of Georgia or anywhere else. Coca-Cola values and celebrates diversity. We believe policies that would allow a business to refuse service to an individual based upon discrimination of any kind, does not only violate our Company’s core values, but would also negatively affect our consumers, customers, suppliers, bottling partners and associates. As a business, it is appropriate for us to help foster diversity, unity and respect among all people.

“We advocate for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices. Coca-Cola does not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.”

Salesforce

The largest tech employer in Indiana have promised to help their employees move out of the state if they no longer want to live and work there.

CEO Marc Benioff said: “We can’t pull out of Indiana completely as we have thousands of employees there, but what we can do is say that you need to protect our employees and customers that we are bringing to Indiana, and laws like the one that we saw passed last week by Governor Pence are not acceptable.

“This law is brutal, it is unfair and it needs to change.”

Gen Con

Gaming convention Gen Con regularly attracts 56,000 attendees to Indianapolis, but have threatened to leave the state.

CEO Adrian Swartout said: “Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”

 

A variety of business leaders signed a joint statement, including representatives of American Airlines, Levi Strauss, Symantec and Wells Fargo.

It read: “Corporate leaders are speaking out against bills that could allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and other minorities — several versions of which are actively being considered in states across the country.

“This proposed legislation is bad for business.

“Equality in the workplace is a business priority to foster talent and innovation, and these state laws undermine this core value.”

 

Another joint statement from tech companies was put forward, begun by Affirm CEO Max Levchin. He said: “It  anything can be learned from the battle for fairness and equality in Indiana, Arkansas, and other states, it’s that LGBT people deserve to be protected from unjust discrimination.

“We are proud to stand on the side of liberty and justice and call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in non-discrimination protections. This will ensure that no one faces discrimination while everyone preserves their right to live out their faith.”

 

The joint statement was signed by, among others, leaders of Twitter, Airbnb, Ebay, Tumblr, Linkedin, Microsoft and Intel. It read: “The values of diversity, fairness and equality are central to our industry. These values fuel creativity and inspiration, and those in turn make the U.S. technology sector the most admired in the world today.

We believe it is critically important to speak out about proposed bills and existing laws that would put the rights of minorities at risk. The transparent and open economy of the future depends on it, and the values of this great nation are at stake.

Religious freedom, inclusion, and diversity can co-exist and everyone including LGBT people and people of faith should be protected under their states’ civil rights laws. No person should have to fear losing their job or be denied service or housing because of who they are or whom they love.”

On the other side of the debate, a pizza delivery restaurant said they will not serve pizza to a same-sex wedding.

Related topics: business, religious freedom, religious freedom restoration act, tech, US

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