Tech fights for states to pass anti discrimination protections

Silicon Valley leaders know that their symbolic value has only grown in recent years, as I wrote in a column this week.

They represent a vibrant, wealthy and growing industry that tends to define its mission beyond making money.

And when they want to, they can mobilize quickly, as we have seen this week when Indiana passed a so-called “religious freedom” bill, which many said permitted the discrimination of gays and lesbians.

Key tech leaders, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, publicly opposed efforts by Indiana and other states, as I wrote in a post earlier this week.

Indiana Republicans announced Thursday a fix to its new law to make it illegal to discriminate against gays, Politico reported. Marc Benioff,’s CEO, applauded the move on Twitter:

But the fight has already moved beyond specific states to now push every state to create discrimination protection if it doesn’t have such a law.

More than 70 leaders called this week for states to pass such legislation, as the Human Rights Campaign reported. Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, told the New York Times that “nondiscrimination statues unfortunately do not exist in the vast majority of states across our country.”

The tech industry statement, spurred by Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal and CEO of Affirm, has picked up signatures from a wide swath of tech chief executives, including Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Brian Krzanich of Intel. The statement read in part:

Religious freedom, inclusion and diversity can coexist and everyone, including L.G.B.T. people and people of faith, should be protected under their states’ civil rights laws,” their statement reads. “No person should have to fear losing their job, or be denied service or housing because of who they are or whom they love.

Above: Max Levchin, the CEO of Affirm, in a 2014 file photo. (John Green/Staff)


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