Tech CEOs Push Georgia to Ban 'Religious Liberty' Bill

  • Intel's Krzanich says bill would legislate discrimination
  • Salesforce vows to cut investment in state if bill is enacted

Executives from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are calling on Georgia’s governor to veto a bill that critics say legalizes discrimination, another sign that the technology industry is taking a more active role in social issues.

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corp.’s chief executive officer, Yelp Inc. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, and Michael Dell have come out against a proposed law that will permit businesses in the state to deny employment, as well as educational and charitable services, based on religious beliefs -- essentially giving legal protection to people who object to same-sex marriage.

“Once again Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate,” Marc Benioff, Inc.’s CEO, tweeted on Wednesday after Georgia’s state legislature passed the bill. “When will this insanity end?”

Nathan Deal, Georgia’s governor, has until May 3 to sign or veto House Bill 757.

Benioff has been a leader in this debate, according to Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive officer of GLAAD, which advocates for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender rights. She cited a poll he posted on his Twitter account asking whether should leave Georgia if the law is approved. With 6,354 votes so far, 80 percent of his followers supported an exit.

“CEOs are no longer just business leaders, they have to be social leaders,” Ellis said. “The workforce is demanding it. They have a platform they haven’t used in the past and now they are using it for social good. And I think that’s the wave of the future.”

Krzanich, who said he’s a proud ally of the LGBT community,  also weighed in: “We oppose discrimination in all forms. @GovernorDeal do the right thing and Veto House Bill 757,” Krzanich tweeted Thursday.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter Inc. and Square Inc. reiterated Kraznich’s plea in a nearly identical tweet Friday.

Other large businesses, from Microsoft Corp. to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and Delta Air Lines Inc. have also urged the state to abandon the bill. Salesforce said it will cut investment in Georgia, including a tech conference held in Atlanta, if the bill is not vetoed.

(Corrects full name and title of GLAAD CEO in fifth paragraph of story that ran March 18.)
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