Tech CEO threatens to pull 15k strong convention from Georgia if anti-LGBT bill signed
The CEO of one of the largest tech marketing firms in America has given the Governor of Georgia an ultimatum.
Should Governor Nathan Deal sign an anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ bill which is on his desk, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff will pull a convention, set to take place in Atlanta.
The convention, organised by the $4 billion company, will see 15,000 people descend on the city in Georgia, but not if Deal signs HB 757.
Benioff is sticking to his word, after tweeting a poll in February asking whether Salesforce should move the convention if the bill passes.
After 80 percent of respondents said yes, Benioff has now issued the ultimatum.
“Salesforce is calling on Governor Deal to veto HB 757 because the legislation creates an environment of discrimination and makes the state of Georgia seem unwelcoming to same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community,” a statement from Salesforce read.
“If HB 757 is not vetoed and instead becomes law, Salesforce will have to reduce investments in Georgia, including moving the Salesforce Connections conference to a state that provides a more welcoming environment for the LGBTQ community.”
The convention is set for early May.
HB 757 has been widely condemned, but last month passed unanimously in the House of Representatives 161-0.
Originally intended to protect pastors who refuse to perform same-sex weddings, the bill has now passed in the House again by 104-65, after extra “protections” were added, meaning businesses and employees could discriminate against LGBT people.
It has been pointed out by human rights groups, that the bill would even allow hospitals to refuse necessary treatment to people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Kelvin Williams, the founder of telecoms company 373k, which has its headquarters in Georgia, has already said he is in the process of moving his company to Delaware.
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However, the situation may be more fraught than meets the eye.
The Governor earlier this month suggested he was against signing the bill.
Deal used bible verse to make his point, saying: “We do not have a belief, in my way of looking at religion, that says that we have to discriminate against anybody.”
“I think what the New Testament teaches us,” he continued “is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered outcasts.”
Despite his strong message, the revised version of the bill was still passed by both the House and Senate in the state on Wednesday.
Last year, when Indiana passed a similar “religious freedom” bill, Benioff said the company would boycott the state.